Annual Report
Year Ended 31st March 2001

The Cremation Society of Great Britain

Report of the Council

The Council have pleasure in presenting their report and financial statements for the year ended 31st March 2001.


Statement of Council Members' Responsibilities

Company law requires us as council members to prepare financial statements for each financial year which give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the Society and of the net income or expense of the Society for that period. In preparing those financial statements we are required to:

  • select suitable accounting policies and then apply them consistently;
  • make judgements and estimates that are reasonable and prudent;
  • state whether applicable accounting standards have been followed, subject to any material departures disclosed and explained in the financial statements;
  • prepare the financial statements on a going concern basis unless it is inappropriate to presume that the Society will continue in business.

We are responsible for keeping proper accounting records which disclose with reasonable accuracy at any time the financial position of the Society and enable us to ensure that the financial statements comply with the Companies Act 1985. We are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the Society and hence for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities.

Principal Activity

The Society was founded in 1874 by the late Sir Henry Thompson, Bart., to promote and establish the practice of cremation for the disposal of the bodies of dead persons and to join with local authorities and other bodies, or persons, for this purpose.

Review of Business and Future Development

The financial statements show the following results on the General Fund for the financial year:

  2001 2000
  £ £
Net Outgoing Resources (8,055) (30,138)
Realised Gains on Fixed Asset Investments 20,995 30,876
Unrealised Gains/Losses on:    
Fixed Asset Investments (181,268) 101,492
Investment Property 90,125


Net Income/(Expenditure) for the Year (78,243) 102,230

In the light of recent share transactions and the value at which shares have been exchanged the Council of the Society considered it appropriate to revalue its investment holding in Kent County Crematorium Plc. Based on the valuation of recent transactions its holding has been revalued at £184,500 (2000: £373,612). For the purpose of this financial statement the reduction in value is treated as a recognised but unrealised loss and is offset to a significant extent by the recognised but unrealised gain on the Society's investment property of £90,125 (2000: Nil). To use an alternative method of valuation would be a change of accounting policy and involve carrying out a full share valuation exercise on the Society's holding in Kent each year. This was not considered to be either practical or necessary. Since the year end the Society has purchased further holdings in Kent at the lower valuation and a slight recovery in the share price is anticipated during the coming year.

Abolition of the Recovery of Tax Credits on Dividend Income

Following the abolition of the payment of advance corporation tax by companies paying dividends in the 1997 Budget, the Society, in common with other charities, is unable to reclaim the associated tax credits on dividends receivable after 5th April 1999 from the Inland Revenue. However, charities are, under transitional rules, receiving compensation for the loss of these tax credits for a five year period reducing on a sliding scale. After 5th April 2004 the Society's total U.K. dividend income could therefore have been reduced by 20% of the 1998/99 level subject to changes in the market and yields. The Society's brokers will take all reasonable steps to mitigate the adverse effects of this change in tax legislation.


The transfer of material into the Durham University Library's on-line catalogue is nearing completion. The material already on-line is proving extremely useful to academics and ordinary members of the public alike.

The official hand-over ceremony of the Cremation Society's archives to the University of Durham's Library (Special Collections Section) is scheduled for Friday 2 November 2001. Taking part in the ceremony will be representatives from the Society's Council and Golders Green Foundation and representatives of the University of Durham including the Vice-Chancellor. A full report will appear in the Society's quarterly journal Pharos International.


The Society's website at continues to be the leading website of any national British cremation organisation. Visited by the public, academics and those involved in the death care profession it provides a rich source of material on all aspects of cremation.

As a reference source on cremation legislation it is proving particularly useful, especially to those involved in the various inquiries or reviews that have taken place or are presently under way and involve some relevance to cremation. An example is The Shipman Inquiry where the website has proved particularly useful. Since its establishment it has received over 5,000 visits.

Directory of Crematoria

Demand for the Directory of Crematoria continues to increase. The statistical information contained in the publication is updated annually as are details on each crematorium featured.

The Society is now benefiting from the licence agreement that it entered into with Chadwyck-Healey Limited. Under the arrangement Chadwyck-Healey have been given permission to include the content of the Directory on their KnowUK website. Although still in the early days of development this licence agreement provided the Society with approximately £780 in royalties during the year.

Annual Conference

The Society's Annual Conference held in July 2000 at Harrogate proved extremely successful with the presentation of some 13 papers plus workshops on Facing the Media and Listening to the Bereaved. With such a large number of diverse and topical subjects being covered from Cremation and the Environment to What do we mean by Ritual?, and from Cremation in Japan and Denmark to theArchitecture of British Inter-War Crematoria, the Society's Conference is an important event in the calendar of anyone involved in the death care profession. The Society was particularly pleased that the papers on Dr Brighton and Dr Hyde: Deviant Doctors and Burned Bodies and Property in Body Parts and the Cremation Regulations drew an excellent attendance from a specially invited audience of doctors and coroners in the area.

Pharos International

The Society's publication which is also the official journal of the International Cremation Federation continues to be published to the highest standard with increasingly varied topics being covered in each issue. The production difficulties referred to in the last report have now been resolved and there are no longer problems with publication schedules. Attention is now being focussed on making the publication more cost-effective and steps being taken in this respect should lead to an improvement in the situation.

Funeral Ombudsman Scheme

The Society continued to promote and support the Funeral Ombudsman Scheme's (FOS) call for a single code of practice for funerals. In its Inquiry into the Funeral Industry published in July the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) indicated that the vast majority of funeral directors, some 86%, support the OFT's call for total membership of the FOS and a single code of practice for the whole funeral directing industry. The report also described the OFT's new approach to codes of practice and called for an independent redress scheme and urged the funeral profession to comply with this requirement. The Funeral Ombudsman has highlighted the fact that their clients already have the advantage of an independent and impartial complaint handling process.

In its report the OFT also states that it believes it would be sensible for all the trade, including those outside the trade associations, to participate in the single scheme. This will enable the entire industry to work together to achieve economies of scale and make the single scheme recognisable to consumers.

The Society is in complete accord with this proposal and is pleased that its Secretary was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Funeral Ombudsman Scheme in November last year.

Office of Fair Trading Investigation into Funerals

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) conducted an investigation into funerals and as a consultee the Society made a comprehensive submission. The main points on which the Society focussed and commented were Informed Choice, Memorialisation, Questionable Practices of which the Society was aware, and finally, Complaints Procedures.

The OFT report, published in July, comments and makes a number of recommendations on various points including the above, which if implemented by those concerned will significantly improve the service provided to the bereaved and their families.

Office for National Statistics

As expected the review of the role of the Civil Death Registration Service which was the subject of a consultation document entitled "Registration: Modernising a Vital Service" and to which the Society responded has been delayed due to the Dr Harold Shipman case.

Independent Inquiry into Issues Raised by the Case of Dr Harold Shipman

Following a judicial review the proposed independent Inquiry due to be led by Lord Laming was replaced by a Public Inquiry under the Chairmanship of Dame Janet Smith DBE. The opening session of the Inquiry took place on 10 May 2001 at which a representative of the Council was present.

With its early role in improving methods of death certification the Society has a specific interest in the remit of the Inquiry. As a result the Society has been assisting the Solicitor to the Inquiry, on an an-going basis, with the supply of various details of a legislative nature relating to cremation. Depending on how the Inquiry progresses and if thought appropriate the Society may consider it necessary to consider asking for permission to give evidence. It is gratifying to know that the Society's contribution is of value to the Inquiry.

Home Office Review of Death Certification

As part of its comprehensive submission to the Home Office on this subject the Society suggested that an independent specialist should be responsible for determining the cause of death and that this role, presently being carried out by the attending doctor, should be dispensed with. The Society made a number of other suggestions for improving and tightening up death certification procedures.

It remains to be seen whether any of the suggestions made are either taken up or pursued further although there are initial signs that this may be the case. The position will become clearer once the Home Office has published its report.

Retained Organs Commission

As a direct result of the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry and the Report of the Inquiry into the Royal Children's Hospital Liverpool (Alder Hey), the government set up a Special Health Authority known as the Retained Organs Commission. One of its principal tasks was to oversee the return of tissue and organs from collections around the country.

The Commission anticipated that a large number of parents would be seeking to cremate and associate organs and tissue with the existing remains of their children and the question of disposing of slides in this way would pose some difficulties for cremation authorities. The Society was approached by the Commission for its views on the matter and it was pleased to express these. Following consultation with the Society and all other interested parties in the death care profession the Commission's formal guidance was published in July 2001.

The Environment Sub-Committee Inquiry into Cemeteries

In July 2000 Mr Andrew Bennett MP, Chairman of the Environment Sub-Committee of the House of Commons Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs, addressed the Society's conference at Harrogate. In November 2000 a Sub-Committee Inquiry into Cemeteries was instigated, chaired by Mr Bennett.

In the Society's submission to the Inquiry which is reproduced in detail in their final report, it emphasised, amongst other matters, the following:

  • The amount of land that had been saved through the practice of cremation since its inception.
  • The fact that internationally the benefits of cremation were being recognised and the rate of cremation continued to increase.
  • Unlike cemetery funding, cremation facilities were not a financial drain on the communities which they served.
  • It would be unfair for subsidies, in whatever form, to be provided to the cemetery service as this would have a detrimental effect on cremation authorities who are having to meet substantially increased expenditure in order to maintain their facilities to the highest standards.


In the light of the various legislative changes and guidelines being issued as a result of inquiries and reviews affecting the cremation movement, the Society has begun to receive a number of enquiries of a legal nature. The Society is fortunate in having as a member of its Council Mr S R G White, former senior lecturer of law at Cardiff University specialising in criminal law, the law relating to burial, cremation, coroners, post-mortems and the donation and use of body parts for medical purposes. He has been able to assist by providing advice in these instances and has enabled the Society to add another valuable service to those it already offers.


The Society's Secretary continues to serve as the Secretary-General of the International Cremation Federation, a position which he has held for the past 11 years. The office of the Society acts as the Secretariat for the Federation, co-ordinating the work of its various sub-committees. At the present time the work of the Technical Sub-Committee made up of representatives from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, and Sweden, is particularly relevant with environmental matters being addressed in a number of countries, not least Great Britain. The Technical Sub-Committee has been working on the production of The International Cremation Federation Guide to Cremation Practice which it hopes to publish in the near future.

The Federation continues to widen in expertise and influence and in addition to environmental matters is presently focussing its efforts on lifting restrictions on the practice of cremation where this is presently the case in Europe.


The Environmental Protection Act 1990 was responsible for the introduction of a new and much needed integrated pollution control regime. The cremation process, which involves an emission to air, now has specified performance standards defined in Guidelines issued by the Secretary of State. The results of continuous flue gas monitoring and annual sampling of emissions provide the local Environmental Health Officer, and just as importantly the general public, with the confidence that current standards of operation are being met in each establishment.

As part of the latest four-yearly review of the Cremation Process Guidance Notes, the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (formerly known as Department of Environment Transport and Regions) Air Quality Division published its first draft of the revised Notes in February 2001. This required crematoria to undergo major industry changes involving the introduction of flue gas cleaning equipment which, in part, is in response to an initiative from a few European countries for a "reduction in background emissions in mercury".

Despite requests from the cremation movement for detailed information DEFRA did not produce any evidence that mercury was being emitted in any significant quantity - certainly not in levels to justify a massive refurbishment programme. The research that has been undertaken at a crematorium in the Midlands over a prolonged period indicated that levels of mercury in the ambient air was even below the limit of scientific detection. From an extensive survey carried out by the Federation of British Cremation Authorities organised by their Secretary, Mr Bernard McHale, which represents 95% of operating crematoria, it was clear that the introduction of new equipment would

  • impose a further substantial burden on cremation authorities (estimated at a further £150 million)
  • result in the closure of 23% of the 242 crematoria in Britain
  • herald fundamental changes to the cremation service in Britain

Virtually all cremation authorities indicated that they would have insufficient space to accommodate the new equipment and 25% were unable to extend their buildings for this purpose. Closure of a local crematorium would certainly result in inconvenience and distress to grieving families in this the most sensitive of public services. The estimated capital costs involved were likely to produce an increase in cremation fees of between £70 and £100 per funeral on a conservative estimate.

In the absence of adequate factual evidence or information, the Cremation Society of Great Britain and the Federation of British Cremation Authorities joined forces to commission and fund an urgent and major research programme to investigate all the issues relating to emissions including mercury, their presence and effect on air quality. The research also considered the ability of crematoria to maintain their service if abatement plant proved to be necessary. DEFRA was advised of this initiative in anticipation that the new Guidance Notes would permit the comprehensive investigation to be concluded and made public before any potentially damaging social changes could be imposed upon the British people.

The Society and Federation took further steps to draw attention to the situation by writing to every member of the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments, Members of the Welsh Assembly, and the UK representatives at the European Parliament, highlighting the present circumstances and requesting active support in avoiding the possibility of unjustified crematorium closures and the public outrage that this may engender. It is anticipated that the results of the joint research will be published during September 2001.

Joint Life Member Certificates

Pharos Assurance Friendly Society (formerly known as the Cremation Assurance Friendly Society) was responsible for underwriting the Cremation Society's liability to pay claims under its joint life membership certificates. For the reasons explained in the last Report of the Council it was the intention of Pharos to effect a transfer of its engagements to the Nottingham Oddfellows Assurance Friendly Society Limited, trading as the Nottingham Friendly Society.

On 20 November 2000 the Friendly Societies Commission considered an application by Pharos for a transfer of its business to the Nottingham Friendly Society, together with the supporting documentation provided by both Societies. It could find no reason to suppose, nor evidence to suggest, that it should be precluded from confirming the transfer by any of the provisions of Schedule 15 Friendly Societies Act 1992.

Further, that in accordance with paragraph 8 of Schedule 15 of the Friendly Societies Act 1992, the Commission confirmed the transfer of engagements from the Pharos Assurance Friendly Society to the Nottingham Oddfellows Assurance Friendly Society Limited, known as the Nottingham Friendly Society. Subsequently the appropriate Instrument of Transfer was registered with an effective date of 18 December 2000.

The new arrangement ensures financial security for Cremation Society joint life membership certificate holders as well as an opportunity for them to access a range of insurance products tailored to their individual needs, including provision for all their funeral costs.

The transfer of engagements is primarily an internal arrangement and joint life membership certificate holders will continue to be serviced by the Society who will deal with the settlement of claims. There should be no perceptible change in the relationship between the Society and its joint life membership certificate holders.

Memorandum and Articles of Association

Unfortunately, although the Instrument registering the formal transfer of engagements of Pharos to the Nottingham Friendly Society was registered in December 2000, the practical work involved in the transfer was significantly underestimated, although this has now been completed.

In addition, during the past year there has been an unprecedented number of Inquiries and Reviews for which the Society has prepared significant contributions. Additionally, the Society has taken on the property management role for Brecon House.

All these factors have occupied the Society's small number of staff. As a result it has not been possible to progress the revision of the Society's Memorandum and Articles, incorporating provision for new membership schemes, as intended, although this is now being treated as a matter of urgency.


For the same reasons mentioned above it was not possible to implement the intended computerisation of the Society's office administration. However the Society is presently in consultation with a chosen supplier and a specification has been prepared for the installation of a suitable system, including a training programme for staff. Installation and training will be completed by the end of the Society's financial year 2001/2002.

Brecon House

The acquisition of Brecon House was clearly a prudent move by the Society providing it with long term financial security. Since its acquisition its value has increased and declining interest rates at the present time indicate that the loan could be repaid earlier than expected, although of course this could change should the trend reverse.

Brecon House still remains the only fully staffed permanent office providing a service from 9am to 5pm five days a week to deal with enquiries from the public and existing or prospective cremation authorities. At a time when there is so much activity within the cremation movement and there is a need to source information quickly, the Society's position is unique.

Council Members

The Society's Council already comprises highly qualified members prominent in their individual fields of expertise. Nevertheless, it is the Council's intention to increase its expertise and the influence it is able to exert through the appointment of additional members. This matter is being actively pursued at the present time.

Future Development

The Society will continue to consolidate its existing relationships with allied organisations as well as participating in discussions on cremation related topics on which it can speak with authority. It will cooperate with kindred organisations when the cause of cremation is being promoted. The Society will at all times, through its interests in cremation companies, promote the practice of cremation to the highest standard.

It will continue to consolidate relationships already established with government and departments such as the Home Office, Office for National Statistics, Department of Trade and Industry, Office of Fair Trading, and Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Retained Organs Commission. It will cultivate relationships with other government departments as appropriate and will continue to contribute to any Inquiries or Reviews that may be relevant to the cremation profession.

As a priority the Society will continue to play an active role in international affairs through its involvement in the International Cremation Federation, and the use of its offices as the Secretariat to co-ordinate the activities of the Executive and various sub-committees of the Federation.

The Society will work towards a comprehensive revision of its Memorandum and Articles of Association to reflect changes in charity legislation and provide for new membership schemes.

It will press ahead with the installation of a new computerised office administration system in order to provide an improved and more efficient service to all those who call upon the Society for data and information about cremation.

Finally, the Council takes this opportunity of expressing its appreciation of the often heavy workload undertaken by the Society's small but dedicated staff.

Market Value of Freehold Land and Buildings

In the opinion of the Directors of the subsidiary company, the market value of its freehold land and buildings is considerably in excess of the net book value of £1,632,976. In the absence of a professional valuation of all the properties the Council are unable to quantify that excess.

Officers and Council

After 14 years of service, Richard Roberts stepped down as Chairman of the Society at a Council meeting held on 21 June 2001. During his term of office he guided the Society through a number of significant changes. The Council's expertise was both widened and strengthened through appointments of a number of individuals highly regarded in their respective professional fields. He also saw the Society progress in terms of financial stability, culminating in the purchase of the freehold of the Society's existing office premises. Although stepping down as Chairman, we are delighted that he continues to serve on the Council and also in his existing capacity as Treasurer.

At the same Council meeting he was succeeded by Revd. Dr. Peter C Jupp, who has been a member of the Council since February 1997. Peter has been active in the cremation and death care movement for many years, being a member of the Churches Group on Funerals at Cemeteries and Crematoria, as well as a former director of the National Funerals College. He is a founding editor of "Mortality" and is also presently consultant to the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors as well as being Chairman of SAIF Charter Trust.

The Directors of the Society (who are honorary and known as Members of the Council) who served during the financial year, were as follows:-

The Right Honourable The Earl Grey
Revd. Dr. P.C. Jupp (Chairman - appointed 21 June 2001)
R.G. Roberts (Honorary Treasurer)
H. Thomas C.B.E.
S.R.G. White
Professor G.F. Woodroffe
Ms. C. Lambert

The undermentioned members of the Council were also Directors of the Society's subsidiary, The London Cremation Company plc., from which they received total emoluments of £54,100 during the year ended 31st March 2001.

The Right Honourable The Earl Grey
R.G. Roberts
Revd. Dr. P.C. Jupp
H. Thomas C.B.E.

The interest of members of the Council, including family interests, in the shares of the subsidiary at the beginning and end of the year, were as follows:

  Ordinary Shares Preference Shares
  31/3/01 1/4/00 31/3/01 1/4/00
R.G. Roberts     250 250
H. Thomas C.B.E. 103 103 1,000 1,000
Revd. Dr. P.C. Jupp        
Non-Beneficial Trustee Interests:        
The Right Honourable The Earl Grey 20,000 20,000    

The Right Honourable The Earl Grey is a Trustee of the Golders Green Foundation.

Mr. R. G. Roberts and Mr. H. Thomas are Trustees of the subsidiary's Staff Pension Fund.


The Society is a Company limited by guarantee not having a share capital, and is registered under the Charities Act 1960.


A resolution will be submitted to the forthcoming Annual General Meeting that Messrs. Larkings, Chartered Accountants, be re-appointed Auditors of The Society.


Date: 14 September 2001
R.N. Arber, Secretary