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Coroners Bill

Volume 689: debated on Tuesday 30 January 2007

My right honourable friend the Minister of State has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am announcing today my intention to strengthen the public protection role of coroners in England and Wales. In the draft Coroners Bill, published last June, there was provision for coroners to make reports to organisations which had the power to take action to prevent future deaths. Arising from the consultation process on the draft Bill, I have strengthened this proposal. I plan to:

ensure that organisations are required to respond to such reports;

provide that the chief coroner, who will be appointed under the Bill, will monitor the reports made and the responses received; and

require that the chief coroner provide a summary in his or her annual report to the Lord Chancellor, who will lay the report before this House.

Families often express their wish that something positive might come out of a coroner's inquiry and hope that relevant agencies will take preventive action so that the death of their family member is not in vain. The increased focus on the ability to learn lessons, and to share information and best practice, will help families to achieve closure, as well as prevent future deaths, and address public interest issues about health and safety.

These new powers will also build on the steps that coroners are already taking, in advance of legislation, to improve the public protection aspect of their role and will assist organisations to identify and remedy problems.