The NAFD this week gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament to underline the importance of its existing Codes of Professional Standards and Practice, and its robust process of regulation.

The Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee was taking evidence as part of the consultation over the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill, due to come into force next year.

Andrew Brown, North Sector Operations Manager for Co-operative Funeralcare, represented the NAFD – the only funeral sector trade association to be involved in the evidence-gathering session – and re-iterated the Association’s commitment to its Codes of Practice and Professional Standards, and its viewpoint that the Government should work with those rather than create its own standards.

He told the committee that the “biggest impact” of the new legislation on Funeral Directors was around inspection and regulation, and said that the NAFD was already blazing a trail on both fronts.

He said: “If statutory regulation is to be introduced, the NAFD stands ready to advise and assist.

“However, we would urge the Government to fully utilise the Association’s existing and well established codes and standards rather than seeking to define and introduce a new separate set of codes and standards that would run parallel to our own.”

Describing how the regulation worked and the sanctions that can be imposed for failure to meet those standards, including a fine and even expulsion from the NAFD, he also said the Association’s concern for its members was the potential cost implication of regulation, which would add to the cost of funerals and exacerbate the issue of funeral poverty.

Mr Brown said the NAFD welcomed the Bill as it sought to update and rationalise some outdated legislation.

He said in responding to the Bill, the NAFD took into consideration the best interests of bereaved families along with the implication on members’ businesses.

Taking questions from the committee about the shortage of burial space, Mr Brown underlined the NAFD’s opposition to the re-use of existing lairs which would involve exhumation, deepening a lair and then re-interring the exhumed remains.

However, he said the Association supported the resale of unused lairs that had passed the 75-year period laid out in law for its use.

The NAFD has been working closely with the Scottish Parliament in the structuring of the new legislation and will appear before the second committee taking evidence on the Bill, the Health and Sport Committee, next month.

Mr Brown gave evidence alongside representatives from the Institute of Cemetery and Cremation Management and Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities, and Robert Swanson, Inspector of Crematoria Scotland.