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Volume 405: debated on Friday 16 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the average time taken was (a) in England and (b) in each local authority between the decision to hold an inquest and the opening of the inquest, in the last year for which figures are available. [112722]

The information requested is not held centrally, but I understand that a decision to hold an inquest can normally be taken within a few days of the report of the death. In 2001, in 88 per cent, of cases where coroners decided to hold an inquest, they issued certificates for the burial or cremation of the deceased within a week. In a further 9 per cent, of cases, certificates were issued within a month. In the remaining 2.5 per cent, of cases, authorisation to bury or cremate took longer. Such certificates would not be issued until after a decision to hold an inquest had been taken.