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Volume 550: debated on Tuesday 18 September 2012

I add my welcome to the Minister in taking up her new role and also welcome the new chief coroner, who of course takes up his role this week. Will she take the opportunity to disassociate herself from the actions of her predecessor, the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly), who did much to obstruct the role of chief coroner, and will she welcome the extra accountability the role will bring to the coroner service, particularly in assisting bereaved families?

The chief coroner will take up his role either tomorrow or the day after, and the Secretary of State and I look forward to meeting him shortly thereafter. The first of his new powers will come into force next week. The Government are determined to improve the coroner system. There needs to be much more focus on the bereaved and we must ensure that we minimise delays.

In welcoming my hon. Friend to her new post, may I ask her what is the average length of time for an inquest and whether there is anything she can do to speed up the process? Will she meet me to discuss the case of a young boy who died on the A64 and the trauma suffered by his family during the course of the inquest?

The average inquest lasts for approximately 27 weeks. On the matter my hon. Friend refers to, I will be happy to meet her to discuss it in more detail.