HL Deb 27 June 1978 vol 394 cc277-8

[No. 52.]

Schedule 5, page 101, line 26, at end insert—

'In section 2(3) for the words from "is a barrister-at-law" to the end substitute the words "has practised for not less than five years either as a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland or as a solicitor of the Supreme Court".'


My Lords, I beg to move that this House cloth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 52. Amendment No. 52 makes textual amendment to the Coroners Act (Northern Ireland) 1959, relating to the qualifications for appointment as a coroner. At present, that Act provides that barristers and solicitors of five years' standing who are practicing in Northern Ireland shall be eligible. This means that candidates have to be drawn from the ranks of practising barristers and solicitors. This rule has been abandoned, however, for all other judicial appointments because it precludes from appointment those who may have taken up other posts but who might be suitable.

This Amendment would, therefore, bring the position for coroners into line with that for all other judicial appointments by requiring that eligibility shall rest on having practised for the necessary period, but that it shall not be necessary for candidates to be in practice immediately before appointment. The need for this Amendment arises in part from the difficulty which has been experienced in finding suitable practitioners who are willing to undertake the duties of coroners in Northern Ireland, since although they arc part-time duties, they are burdensome and not very well remunerated. The question of remuneration is at present under review and it is hoped that, with the establishment of new Court Service, greater clerical assistance may be made available.

Before parting with this Amendment, I should like, as Lord Chancellor, to pay tribute to the work that the coroners have done and to the way that, with such modest remuneration, they have dealt with their sombre work in Northern Ireland.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(The Lord Chancellor.)