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Volume 672: debated on Tuesday 25 February 2020

1. What progress he has made on bringing into force the terms of the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019 to extend the power to coroners to investigate stillbirths. (900811)

May I welcome my new ministerial colleagues, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Lucy Frazer) and my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk), to their places?

I recently consulted on proposals for introducing coronial investigations of stillbirths, along with a colleague in the Department of Health and Social Care, and we will publish our consultation response in the early summer. I will of course be pleased to meet my hon. Friend about this issue.

It is good to see my right hon. and learned Friend in his place and I know he is sympathetic to this, but the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act became law in May last year and the consultation on the terms of how the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 could be changed finished last summer, as he said. The former Justice Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Edward Argar), did a lot of preparatory work on this, and since then there have been further cases of clusters of stillbirths. What is the hold-up?

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend and share his strong commitment to this issue. Many Members in this House have been touched directly or indirectly by the tragedy of stillbirth. It is important to note that we are ahead of target in halving stillbirths by 2025. I fully accept, however, that bereaved parents need answers now. We will be publishing the consultation response as soon as possible. I want to move this on as quickly as possible. I give him that assurance.