HC Deb 30 July 1891 vol 356 c774

I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether the Grand Jury of any county have power to select medical witnesses for inquests and compel the Coroner to call in those appointed by them, and, in the event of the Coroner not complying with their instructions, to disallow the fee (£1 1s.) if the Coroner calls in any other registered practitioner residing in the district; whether he is aware that, in the County of Londonderry, the Grand Jury cancels the Coroner's application for the fee of £1 1s. which has been paid by the Coroner to the medical witness at the time of the inquest, if he does not call in the dispensary doctor as such witness; and whether instructions will be given to reimburse the Coroners for the loss and expenses they have thus sustained?


The Secretary to the Grand Jury of the County Londonderry states that the order of the Grand Jury made at Spring Assizes 1872 in regard to medical witnesses at inquests has been continued up to the present time. That order is to the effect that, in all cases in which medical witnesses are required at inquests, the Coroners shall in the first instance call in the dispensary doctors of the district in which the inquest is held. It appears that order was made after the power of the Grand Jury to do so was upheld by the Assize Judge, who ruled that such order was altogether right and reasonable, the dispensary doctor being, from his position and standing, the most suitable witness to call in in the first instance, and that the Coroners were bound to comply with this requirement and should not deviate from it without giving sufficient reason to the Grand Jury. Where the Coroners fail in satisfying the Grand Jury as to the reason for calling in a medical gentleman other than the dispensary doctor, the Grand Jury disallow the fee. The matter is one in no way under the control of the Executive Government.