Delyn MP David Hanson has called for the Chief Coroner not to be axed after the Prime Minister sided against the Royal British Legion and ruled out keeping the role of Chief Coroner for bereaved families.
Labour has backed a major campaign by the Royal British Legion, which has said that axing the Chief Coroner would “be a betrayal of bereaved Service families” and that introducing national leadership under the Chief Coroner’s post is the only way to tackle the problems of unacceptable delays, a lack of accountability and inconsistent standards across the country.
During last week’s debate on the Public Bodies Bill, Labour MPs voted for an amendment to keep the Chief Coroner. After the vote, the Royal British Legion said that it was “saddened that this important opportunity to do the right thing by bereaved Service families was not taken by the Government”.
David Hanson said:
“Honouring the commitment to create the office of Chief Coroner is the first test of the Government’s commitment to the Military Covenant. Failing in their duty to meet that test makes a mockery of the Government’s assurances of greater support for the military and their families.
“All over Flintshire volunteers and veterans are working really hard, promoting the Poppy Appeal and raising vital money for the Royal British legion.
“The Government should be listening to the Royal British Legion and do the right thing by our Armed Forces and their families, particularly in the run up to Remembrance Sunday.”
Notes to editors
· The previous Government legislated to set up the Office of Chief Coroner (Coroners and Justice Act 2009) to provide oversight of the coronial system in Britain and to make sure there was much improved and universal standards and accountability within the profession. The current service is full of problems and discrepancies that would be remedied by introducing a Chief Coroner, to make the system fairer and less of a postcode lottery.
· The creation of the post of chief coroner was at the heart of the new reforms introduced under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, a result of three years of review and consultation and proposed on the basis of cross-party support. But the Government now wants to abolish the role and is facing growing anger from charities and even its own MPs.
· The Government’s figures on how much it would cost to establish the Chief Coroner’s Office have been questioned by the Royal British Legion, INQUEST and many other charities. The Government has failed to provide detailed costings for the start-up and running of the office and have continuously refused to engage with the alternative financial proposals put forward. The Government has also not properly factored in the costs of failing to implement the reform, such as the £500,000 spent every year on judicial reviews or the costs associated with transferring some of the functions from the office of the chief coroner to the Lord Chief Justice.