§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whehis attention has been called to the circumstances attending the removal of the body, by the Coroner's officer, of the late Mr. J. T. Coleman, from the house in which he died (46, Benlede Street, Poplar) to the "East India Arms," where the inquest was held; whether the Coroner's officer has the legal right to order the removal of a body, against the wishes of the relatives, for simple convenience or the despatch of business; whether he has legal power to call on the police to remove the body by force; and, whether he will grant a Select Committee to inquire into the question of public inquests, the necessity of the jury viewing the body, and the expediency of the present system of holding inquests in public-houses, with the object of seeing whether, by some 1133 change in the law, the annoyance, trouble, and cost of inspection and removal of the body could be prevented?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
I have obtained a Report from the Coroner on this matter. He informs me that the body was not removed to the "East India Arms," but to the nearest public mortuary, in accordance with the almost universal practice in the crowded parts of London. I have not been able to obtain a legal opinion as to whether the Coroner has a right to order the removal of a body, or whether, therefore, he would be entitled to the assistance of the police. I am not aware that any such general dissatisfaction exists with the present procedure that the appointment of a Select Committee is necessary. I understand that in most parts of the Metropolis arrangements are made to obviate the necessity of holding inquests in public-houses. The Coroner for East Middlesex informs me that he never holds an inquest in a public-house if he can avoid it; and at the present moment an application for the use of the Town Hall at Poplar is before the Trustees of that building.