Friday, 17 December 2010

A Chief Coroner? Yes, no, maybe .... !!

Taken overall, the reforms relating to Coroners and Inquests in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 were well-received.  A key element of the reforms was that there should be a Chief Coroner for England and Wales.  Judge Peter Thornton QC was appointed to the post.  Then along came the plans for a "Bonfire of the Quangos" and the Ministry of Justice decided to abolish the post before it even got going.  The Ministry's move was extremely unpopular and unwelcome in some quarters - see, for example, INQUEST.  Now, the House of Lords has voted to keep the post.  This was by a vote of 277 to 165.  Reform in this area is vital and a Chief Coroner would provide the essential leadership needed to ensure that the reforms are introduced properly.  The Chief Coroner would also provide a degree of independence from the executive for the Coronial service as a whole.

The Bill commenced its Parliamentary progress in the House of Lords and must therefore yet go before the House of Commons.  It is to be hoped that they accept this Lords amendment.

Earlier posts:       Bonfire of the Quangos
The Quango cull - Sir Philip Green's "efficiency" report

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