HC Deb 08 May 1941 vol 371 cc979-80
60. General Sir George Jeffreys

asked the Attorney-General which Department has power to deal with coroners for county districts in cases where complaint is made of unsatisfactory performance of their duties not amounting to misbehaviour or incompetence as, from a recent case when complaint was made of a coroner, it appears that the functions of the Lord Chancellor are somewhat ill-defined, and that the Home Secretary has no authority over coroners in such a matter as this; and whether he will take steps to clarify this matter so as to ensure that any coroner who may neglect his duty shall be dealt with adequately and without undue delay?

The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)

I will state first the function of the Lord Chancellor in this matter, which is to receive any complaint which may be made with respect to the conduct of a coroner, whether under Section 8 of the Coroners Act, 1887, or under the Common Law. If he forms the opinion that the complaint, if substantiated, would be such as to require him to remove the coroner from his office for inability or misbehaviour in the discharge of his duty, he investigates the complaint giving a full opportunity to the coroner to deal with any charges made and decides judicially on the matter. Section 8 (2) of the Coroners Act, 1887, inter alia makes wilful neglect by a coroner a misdemeanour. Apart from this provision there is no power to take disciplinary action against a coroner where the complaint does not amount in the Lord Chancellor's opinion to inability or misbehaviour in the discharge of his duty. The existing provisions would seem adequate for dealing with any serious case.