HC Deb 13 May 1901 vol 93 cc1475-6

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the inquest held on 1st May in connection with the accident on the Great Southern and Western Railway on 24th April at Tralee; whether he is aware that the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants' secretary for Ireland, who was present at the inquest on behalf of the relatives of the deceased railway men, was prevented by the coroner from asking questions unless he engaged a solicitor; and, seeing that under the Fatal Accidents Inquiry (Scotland) Act, 1895, representation is allowed at inquests in Scotland on behalf of the relatives of deceased railway men, or for other railway men concerned in the accident, whether he will take steps to amend the law in order to provide for similar representation at inquests in England, Ireland, and Wales, so that an opportunity may be given to bring out technical points.


With the permission of my right hon. friend, I will reply to this question. A man named Hudson, who represented himself to be the secretary of the society mentioned, proposed to cross-examine the witnesses. This the coroner, on objection being taken by the members of the legal profession engaged, refused to permit, but at the same time offered to put himself to the witnesses such questions as Mr. Hudson might suggest if he (the coroner) considered them proper. The statute referred to sets up a system quite peculiar to Scotland, differing fundamentally from the ordinary coroner's inquest. Even under it a person in Mr. Hudson's position could not interfere in the inquiry unless the sheriff was of opinion that he had himself a just interest in the inquiry and not apparently of a mere advocate for the relatives of the deceased. The Government cannot give the assurance asked for.