My right hon. Friend has indeed. He has managed to extract that commitment from me and I will certainly look forward to that discussion. As he has described, none of us in this House wants to see any other family go through the wholly unacceptable distress that the family in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen have been through, at a most difficult time for them. We cannot allow that to happen in future. There is an enormous onus on the sector to drive forward this improvement and these quality standards. At this point, we think it is right that they take responsibility for achieving that, but we reserve the right to have a greater involvement in these matters if we do not see the sort of improvement that I think we would all expect.
In light of the Competition and Markets Authority’s recommendations, both the sector’s representative organisations—the National Federation of Funeral Directors and the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors—are taking positive steps to introduce and embed improved self-regulation and complaint-handling arrangements. Encouraged by the sector’s proactive approach to the Competition and Markets Authority’s findings, we are continuing to work closely with it throughout the implementation of its new self-regulation regimes, with a view to assessing their effectiveness once they have bedded in. I hope that that gives some reassurance as to the improvement that my right hon. and hon. Friends are seeking.
Where funeral directors are not members of these representative bodies, I would expect them to look to the standards that the bodies are developing and to adopt and advance those standards within their own set-ups. I think that that is an important point to make. Cost, which Members have raised, is of course a matter for the representative bodies, but I know that the NAFD in particular is looking to make improved regulatory structures accessible across the profession, which again is very welcome.
In addition to its findings on quality standards, the Competition and Markets Authority made recommendations to address the lack of accessible and comparable information on the products and services that funeral directors provide. In the light of pandemic pressures on the sector, the Competition and Markets Authority has not pursued remedies to address that issue fully. Instead, it has introduced a range of “sunlight” provisions to support customers in making choices about funerals, and to ensure that the pricing, business and commercial activities of funeral directors, as well as the quality of the service that they provide, are exposed to greater public and regulatory scrutiny. The remedies include an obligation for all funeral directors to set their prices out clearly and prominently so that families needing to arrange a funeral can, if they wish, compare that information before deciding which provider to use. The Competition and Markets Authority has also recommended that, once conditions are more stable, it should consider whether a further market investigation is needed to identify whether additional customer protections are needed.
To return to the regrettable experience of the constituents of my right hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen, there are numerous pieces of legislation with which all traders, including funeral director businesses, must comply. In particular, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 sets out the standards that consumers can expect when they contract with a trader or business for the provision of services, and the remedies if those rights are breached. Where a trader or business fails to meet the standards for the supply of a service required by the 2015 Act, or the service does not conform to the contract, that could potentially be a breach of contract, and if so, the consumer is entitled to seek a remedy. If that cannot be agreed in correspondence, the consumer could then pursue a claim against the funeral director in the courts.
I want to pick up on the point made about the cross-Government nature of this issue, which again is important. I have made the point that, as a result of the pandemic, what we have seen is a stronger working relationship between Government and the sector. It is essential that that is reflected across Government, given the fact that elements of policy in this area intersect with various Departments. My right hon. Friend referred to there being silos and the fact that we do not want operations within silos. I hope that he will be slightly reassured by the fact that, as a joint Minister, across both the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, I am quite well versed in ensuring that elements of Government do not act in silos. In that spirit, I would want to engage with colleagues across Government to ensure that we get this right, and that is precisely what I intend to do. He has my reassurance on that.
I conclude by again thanking my right hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen for introducing this debate this afternoon. It would be impossible for anybody—any Minister or any Member of this House—not to be affected by hearing about the experience that he has described with real understanding, care and sympathy for his constituents who have been caught up in this terrible situation. I am very grateful to him for bringing this to the House’s attention. I want him to know that I am very mindful of the situation that he has described, that this is something that I want to go away and look at further, that I do want to engage with the APPG that my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Sir John Hayes) chairs, and we will ensure that that happens, and that, as I have described, there is a piece of work going on at the moment around self-regulation, but we need to monitor that closely, to see whether it achieves the objectives that I think all of us wish to see, and if that is not the case, we reserve the right to look at this issue again and to take matters from there.
I hope that that will provide my right hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen with some reassurance. I would also ask whether he could please express my condolences to his constituents family. They have been through a terrible time, and it really is very important that no other family go through the experience that they have.
Question put and agreed to.