HC Deb 15 November 1979 vol 973 cc1485-6
9. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the operation of coroners' courts.

Mr. Raison

I am not aware of any general grounds for dissatisfaction with the system of coroners' courts. It is not for me to comment on the way in which coroners, who are independent judicial officers, carry out their duties within the framework of the law.

Mr. Ashley

Is the Minister aware that there is a great deal of personal distress caused when close relatives have to identify bodies after industrial death, accidental death or violent death, and that this could be avoided by the Government introducing legislation to avoid the requirement to identify bodies, or, alternatively, by the Government supporting the Bill put forward by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen)?

Mr. Raison

I sympathise with the distress of bereaved relatives in these circumstances, but where the police are called to a death certain facts have to be established, and it is generally thought best to do this immediately, in order to avoid a second interview if at all possible. But I will consider the right hon. Gentleman's point.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that there is also need for the Government to take evidence from many coroners who on various occasions have expressed certain disquiet about the way in which, after they have certified deaths due to pneumoconiosis in the mining industry, the pneumoconiosis medical panel has rejected such certification, with the result that the widow concerned has not received industrial death benefit? I hope that the Minister will take evidence from coroners, particularly those in the mining communities, in order to establish precisely what ought to be done in those cases.

Mr. Raison

This is a subject that I have not considered, but I will look into the point that the hon. Gentleman has raised.

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