Clause 41 - Phased transition to new coroner areas

Part of Judicial Review and Courts Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 18th November 2021.

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Photo of James Cartlidge James Cartlidge Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice) 3:15 pm, 18th November 2021

Clause 41 is intended to support the objective of the Government and, more recently, the Chief Coroner to merge coroner areas where the opportunity arises in order to improve consistency of coroner provision and standardise practice. In essence, clause 41 will enable coroner areas within a local authority to be merged by order of the Lord Chancellor where the new coroner area would not be the entire local authority. Before 2012, there were 110 coroner areas in England and Wales. Through coroner area mergers, we have brought that number down to 85, and our long-term objective with the Chief Coroner is to reduce it further to around 75 coroner areas. It is intended that this clause will make it easier for coroner areas to merge.

The clause also meets one of the Justice Committee’s recommendations in its inquiry report on the coroner service. The Committee acknowledges that reducing the number of coronial areas has helped to increase consistency across the coroner service. Implementing the clause will ensure that merger opportunities can continue to be progressed. I urge that clause 41 stand part of the Bill.