§ Vera Baird
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time has been between deaths and inquests in Cleveland in the last 12 months; what assessment he has made of the reasons for unusual delays; and what the average time was in the other coroners' areas in the north-east. 
§ Beverley Hughes
[holding answer 19 April 2002]: I understand from figures supplied by the Teesside coroner that the average time between a reported death and an inquest in his district in 2001 was about 34 weeks. Calculated on the same basis, the national average is about 18 and a half weeks, with a similar average time interval in the north-east.
Many variable factors affect the timing of an inquest. The Teesside coroner attributes delays in his area to a lack of coroners' officers. Additional officers have recently been supplied by the Cleveland police.