Coroners: Reform

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 6th July 2021.

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Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether the Government plans to consult on the proposed reforms to the coronial system as set out in the 2021 Queen's Speech.

Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the report by the Justice Committee, The Coroner Service, HC 68, published on 27 May 2021, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the reforms to the coronial system proposed in the 2021 Queen's Speech will enable bereaved families to participate fully in proceedings.

Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the recommendation by the Justice Committee in its report entitled The Coroner Service, HC 68, published on 27 May 2021, whether his Department plans to take steps to ensure that by 1 October 2021 bereaved families have access to (a) non-means tested legal aid or (b) other public funding for legal representation at inquests where public authorities are legally represented.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Ministry of Justice does not plan to consult on the proposed reforms to the coronial system but the measures will be contained in a forthcoming Bill which will be available to all members of the House. Additionally, three of the proposed reforms have been included in successive Chief Coroner’s Annual Reports to the Lord Chancellor which have been laid in Parliament advising that these changes will improve coroner processes; the fourth reform around virtual courts would bring coroner’s courts in line with mainstream courts and tribunals. Each of these proposed measures would simplify processes in coroner’s courts and therefore help bereaved families to engage with inquest processes in an easier way.

The Government continues to consider its approach towards the means-testing of legal representation for bereaved families attending inquests as part of the Legal Aid Means Test Review, which is due to be published in Autumn 2021.

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