HC Deb 29 March 1900 vol 81 cc708-9
MR. VAUGHAN DAVIES (Cardiganshire)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to a statement by J. H. Evans, one of the coroners for Cardiganshire, in holding an inquest on one Margaret Ann Howell on the 12th instant, that if jurymen did not understand English they were not eligible to be on the jury, and to the fact that he gave instructions to the constable in charge of the case not to summon jurymen who did not understand English, and whether a person otherwise qualified to sit on a jury at a coroner's inquest in Wales is disqualified by ignorance of the English language; and, if so, under what statute; and whether a coroner has the power to give directions as to the composition of the jury at such inquest.


So far as I am aware, ignorance of English is not a statutory disqualification for sitting on a coroner's jury in Wales, and the coroner to whom the question refers, and who is himself a Welshman, has never expressed himself in that sense. In the case referred to, medical evidence of special importance was given in English, and the inquisition, as the hon. Member is no doubt aware, was drawn in English, and the coroner instructed the police that it would be better to summon jurors who understood English. This expression of opinion appears to me to be altogether in accord with common sense, and in no way inconsistent with the law.