§ Mr. Dismore
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will refer the funeral director industry to the Office of Fair Trading to investigate charging policy. 
§ Miss Melanie Johnson
Under UK competition law, it is the responsibility of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to investigate allegations of anti-competitive behaviour or possible abuses of a dominant position. The OFT published its latest report on the funeral industry on 27 July 2001 and recommended that consumers be given better information about prices and choices. The OFT has also named the industry as one of its priority sectors under its Consumer Codes Approval Scheme. The OFT is currently holding discussions regarding this scheme with a number of industry bodies. Under the Competition Act 1998, the OFT can act if pricing levels appear to be the result of anti-competitive practices. Anyone with evidence of such behaviour should forward that information to the OFT.
The funeral services industry has a system of self regulation. The National Association of Funeral Directors, the Funeral Standards Council and the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors all have codes of practice that require funeral directors to provide a professional service and not to exploit consumers. The codes require members to make a basic funeral available with its price clearly indicated. Funeral directors have a duty to treat consumers fairly at what is a time of considerable emotional stress. Adherence to the Code is monitored by each of the respective trade associations.