HC Deb 21 July 1977 vol 935 cc1830-1
7. Mr. Dunlop

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the reason for the delay in holding inquests into the death of victims of terrorist action.

Mr. Carter

Every effort is made to ensure that such inquests are held as quickly as possible and there is no undue delay. In many cases, however, police investigations are complex and lengthy and it is inevitable that some delay occurs.

Mr. Dunlop

Is the Minister aware that long delay in these matters occasions great distress to members of the families of the victims of terrorism? Is he also aware that when there is no inquest there is no issue of a death certificate? This inhibits the settlement of the affairs of those who have been victims of terrorism. One of my constituents was murdered 15 months ago. As yet there has been no inquest. Will the hon. Gentleman undertake to expedite the carrying out of inquests?

Mr. Carter

I am aware of the problem to which the hon. Gentleman draws attention, but in the peculiar circumstances of Northern Ireland, where police investigations take a long time, I must tell him that there is little prospect of a major change in the situation. However, if the hon. Gentleman will let me have the details of the case to which he refers, I shall examine the situation and find out the reasons for the delay.