HC Deb 03 July 1991 vol 194 cc306-7
8. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what reports on funeral services he has commissioned or received in the course of the last year.

Mr. Leigh

I have commissioned no such reports. The Director General of Fair Trading published a report on funeral services in January 1989.

Mr. Bowis

Does my hon. Friend agree that although there is some public concern about the pricing of funerals, there is much greater public concern about the threat to their provision in some Labour areas, such as Liverpool, where politically motivated men see the services of crematoria and cemeteries as fit for their political activities? Is it not high time that my hon. Friend talked to his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Employment about ways of protecting people at what is, inevitably, a sad time, but which can become a harrowing time as a result of the withdrawal of those services by people who should be providing them for the public?

Mr. Leigh

Suffice it to say that it is sad that a political climate where such threats can be made should be able to grow up anywhere. Funerals are an intensely personal and sad business for families; I shall therefore forbear to say any more, and will let the public be the judge.

Mr. Foulkes

What is the Minister doing to encourage all funeral directors to join the National Association of Funeral Directors and to accept the association's code of practice, as do all Co-operative societies throughout the United Kingdom?

Mr. Leigh

The association has issued a code of practice, in co-operation with the Director General of Fair Trading. That code of practice is now a year old.

I have given the matter considerable thought. Al though the code requires funeral directors to publish the basic costs of funerals, I feel that it would help the public if the association insisted on itemising those costs. Families are in a uniquely vulnerable position at such times, and I shall approach the association on that ground.

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