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Coroners and Justice Bill

Volume 706: debated on Wednesday 14 January 2009

Statement

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Bridget Prentice), has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government have today published the Coroners and Justice Bill.

I have also published today two additional documents which relate to the coroner provisions in the Bill.

The first of these documents is a Revised Draft Charter for Bereaved People who Come Into Contact with a Reformed Coroner System. This follows our most recent discussion paper on the draft charter which was issued for comment between June and September last year. The draft illustrates what a charter for bereaved people under a reformed service might look like. The final version of the charter would be issued by the Lord Chancellor, following discussion with the new chief coroner, when the coroners' provisions in the Bill are implemented. The charter is intended as an illustration of the key benefits that a reformed coroner system will deliver for bereaved families.

The second document is Sensitive Reporting in Coroners' CourtsResponse to Comments 2006-08. The Government have carried out extensive consultation on the reporting of inquests, since the draft Coroners Bill was published in 2006, and this document summarises our position as a result of this process.

The draft Coroners Bill originally contained new powers for coroners to impose anonymity of reporting in any case where the coroner believed there to be no public interest in the names of families being made public. In October 2007 I announced that, following our first consultation, we had agreed to remove the provision on reporting restrictions from the Bill (Official Report, 25/10/07; col. 20 WS).

On 27 March 2008, we sought views again on alternative approaches (Official Report, col. 17 WS) and have concluded that it would be more appropriate to work with the Press Complaints Commission on how its existing code of practice, insofar as it refers to the reporting of inquests, can be brought better to the attention of bereaved families.

Today I have deposited copies of both documents in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office. Copies are also available on the internet at www.justice.gov.uk.