HC Deb 05 February 1948 vol 446 cc1899-900
42. Mr. Marlowe

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the petition presented by many residents in the Chichester district with regard to the inquest held by the deputy coroner, Mr. H. S. Falconer, on 17th September, 1947, concerning the death of Mrs. Grace Elson; and whether he will order a fresh inquest to be held.

Mr. Ede

I have considered this petition, and have caused inquiries to be made, but I can find no ground for further action on my part, and the petitioners have been so informed. I have no authority to order a fresh inquest to be held.

Mr. Marlowe

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the considerable local perturbation over the conduct of these proceedings, and if he has no powers—as I appreciate—will he consider issuing a general instruction to coroners that they are not to sit on cases where they may be related, however remotely, to one of the parties concerned?

Mr. Ede

I am aware that the case has given rise to some comment in the district. I am informed that one of the persons, whose conduct might have been the subject of investigation by the coroner, was, in fact, the second cousin of the man's wife. The coroner assures me that he had not seen or spoken to this man for many years, and that the question of the relationship did not enter into his mind while the inquest was being held. It would be very difficult to lay down a table of consanguinity to be observed.

Mr. Assheton

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of instituting an inquiry into the whole question of coroners' courts and their jurisdiction?

Mr. Ede

I am aware that there is a very great need for some consideration of the whole question by an appropriate body. I hope it may be possible to give some attention to the matter.