The Ministry of Justice is working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and the General Register Office on the implementation of a statutory medical examiners scheme, which will provide an additional layer of scrutiny on cause of death in non-coronal cases. We are also working with the General Register Office to consider how families might play a greater role in the registration of their loved ones’ deaths following an inquest.
I thank the Minister for that response. For many of my constituents, a swift burial is a core tenet of their beliefs and faith, but in many cases this swift burial is held back by bureaucratic legal difficulties in formally registering the death, particularly when GPs cannot be reached, there is a bank holiday or it is the weekend. I think the whole House will agree that no one wants their relatives to be held in a mortuary any longer than is absolutely necessary. Will the Minister meet me and colleagues from the Department of Health and Social Care to discuss what can be done to break down these legal barriers and address these issues so that everybody can be afforded dignity in death?
First, I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that I have discussed this specific issue of how faith communities are dealt with by the coroners service. I have discussed it with the Chief Coroner, and I have a meeting next week with representatives of both the Jewish and the Muslim faiths. Once I have had those meetings, I would be very happy to meet him so that, having looked at the issue in the round, we can discuss how we can move forward.