asked the Lord Advocate, Whether his attention has been called to an article in the "Lancet" of 23rd June, setting forth that, while the average proportion of uncertified deaths in the large towns of England is less than two and a-half per cent., in Scotland, according to the Returns of the Registrar General, the proportion in the eight principal towns in 1881 and 1882 was nearly twenty per cent.; and, whether it is true, as stated by the "Lancet," that the post mortem examinations in cases of uncertified death is decreasing, in consequence of the stringency of the Exchequer in disallowing fees, and—That, in many counties, Procurators Fiscal declare that pressure is put upon them for the purpose of diminishing expenditure in their direction?
THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR)
Sir, I believe the discrepancy noticed in The Lancet between the numbers of uncertified deaths in England and Scotland is more apparent than real. In the first place, the Registrar General in Scotland makes up his return of uncertified deaths weekly, while the medical practitioner may certify the deaths at any time within 10 days, so that a considerable proportion of deaths 767 elsewhere in large towns by senior medical students, and also the cases investigated by the Procurator Fiscal and found to present no element of suspicion. "I have no reason to suppose that the number of post mortem examinations in cases of uncertified deaths is decreasing; but questions have arisen in the accounts of Procurators Fiscal whether a post mortem examination was reasonably necessary in particular cases.