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Death Certificates

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 11 July 2006

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 29 June 2006, Official Report, column 580W, on death certificates, under what circumstances a correction to the death register can legitimately be made (a) before a death register has been completed, (b) after a death register has been deposited with the Superintendent Registrar for a district and (c) at any other point; and who is entitled to authorise such a correction. (83675)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Dennis Roberts, dated 11 July 2006:

The Registrar General for England and Wales has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question pursuant to the Answer of 29th June 2006, Official Report, column 580W, on death certificates, under what circumstances a correction to the death register can legitimately be made (a) before a death register has been completed, (b) after a death register has been deposited with the Superintendent Registrar for a district and (c) at any other point; and who is entitled to authorise such a correction. I am replying in her absence. (83675)

The only circumstances in which a correction to the death register can legitimately be made is if it can be shown that it contains incorrect information. This is applicable regardless of whether the registrar of births and deaths or the Superintendent Registrar has custody of the register.

Local registration officers have some powers of correction depending on the nature of the error, e.g. they can correct a simple copying mistake. More serious errors, e.g. a major change that might affect the identity or status of a person or event requires the authority of the Registrar General.

Where an error is found in a death entry compiled from information supplied by a Coroner following an inquest, the registrar or Superintendent Registrar may not correct anything, other than a copying error in the register, without receiving either an amended or fresh certificate from the Coroner. However, where the error relates to the cause of death this can only be corrected if the Coroner's inquest is quashed and a new inquest is held. Only if the death was originally registered on the basis of a coroner's certificate after inquest adjourned, and the Coroner then resumes the inquest, may he or she certify to the registrar or Superintendent Registrar an amendment to the cause of death.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer under what circumstances a registrar can register the death of an individual whose death is still subject to (a) an inquest by a coroner and (b) an inquiry that has led to the adjournment of a coroner’s inquest under section 17A of the Coroners Act 1988; what legislation determines these circumstances; and whether these circumstances are unchanged from July 2003. (83734)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Dennis Roberts, dated 11 July 2006:

The Registrar General for England and Wales has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning under what circumstances a registrar can register a death of an individual whose death is still subject to (a) an inquest by a coroner and (b) an inquiry that has led to the adjournment of a coroner’s inquest under section 17A of the Coroners Act 1988; what legislation determines these circumstances; and whether these circumstances are unchanged from July 2003. I am replying in her absence. (83734)

A death which is subject to an inquest by a coroner can only be registered once the inquest has concluded or been adjourned. In either circumstance the coroner is required to send a death certificate to the registrar. Sections 11, 16 and 17 of the Coroners Act 1988 contain the relevant provision. On receipt of the certificate the death can be registered under section 23 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953. There have been no changes to the relevant legislation since 2003.