The first Act of Parliament concerning cremation was the Cardiff Corporation Act, 1894. Section 71 of this Act empowered the Corporation to establish a crematorium in its cemetery. Between then and 1902, four other similar local Acts were passed. In 1902, Parliament passed the Cremation Act, 1902, the first general Cremation Act. It repealed all the previously passed local Acts. Since then Parliament has passed one other Cremation Act, the Cremation Act, 1952. Both general Acts are still in force, though they have been amended. Since 1902, Parliament has also passed several local Cremation Acts.

In addition, Parliament has approved a set of Cremation Regulations, made under section 7 of the Cremation Act, 1902. The first set was the Cremation Regulations, 1903. These were replaced by a new set of Cremation Regulations in 1920, which in turn were replaced by another set of Regulations in 1930, which in turn were replaced by another set of Regulations in 2008, the set currently in force in England and Wales.

Although the Cremation Act applied to Scotland, no Cremation Regulations were made for Scotland until 1927. The 1927 Regulations were replaced by a new set of Regulations in 1935, which have been amended a number of times since. but remain in force.  The Cremation Acts of 1902 and 1952 were repealed by the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016.  New Cremation Regulations came into force on 4 April 2019 under The Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 2019.

The Cremation Act 1902 did not apply to Northern Ireland until 1948, when the Belfast Corporation (General Powers) Act 1948 empowered Belfast Corporation to provide and maintain a crematorium and applied the Cremation Act 1902, with modifications, to any crematorium provided under the 1948 Act. The Parliament of Northern Ireland approved a set of Cremation Regulations in 1961. Since 1985 councils in Northern Ireland have been empowered to establish crematoria; however, until further legislative changes are introduced in Northern Ireland, the only recognised 'Cremation Authority' under the 1961 Regulations is Belfast City Council.