Legislative Scrutiny: Coroners and Justice Bill - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Annex: Proposed Committee Amendments

In this Annex, we suggest amendments to the Coroners and Justice Bill[202] to give effect to some of our recommendations and to assist parliamentarians in ensuring that some of the matters we have raised are debated in Parliament.

Certified or secret inquests

These amendments are intended to remove the Government's proposals on certified inquests from the Bill. (Paragraph …)

Page 6, Line 2, Leave out Clause 11.

Page 7, Line 1, Leave out Clause 12.

Page 7, Line 18, Leave out Clause 13.

Information Sharing Orders and the right to respect for private life

This amendment is intended to remove the Government's proposals for Information Sharing Orders from the Bill. (Paragraph …)

Page 101, Line 12, Leave out Clause 154.

New powers for the Information Commissioner

This amendment is intended to extend the proposed power for the Information Commissioner to issue Assessment Notices to data-controllers in the private sector. Paragraph …)

Page 98, Line 25, [Clause 153], delete from the second "is" to the end of line 29 and insert "not an excluded body".

This amendment is intended to treat failure by a public authority to comply with an Assessment Notice as contempt of court. (Paragraph …)

Failure by a government department or public authority to comply with an assessment notice

To move the following clause-

"(1) If a government department or public authority has failed to comply with an assessment notice the Commissioner may certify in writing to the court that the public authority has failed to comply with that notice.

(2) Where failure to comply is certified under subsection (1), the court may inquire into the matter and, after hearing any witness who may be produced against or on behalf of the government department or the public authority, and after hearing any statement that may be offered in defence, deal with the failure to comply as if it were a contempt of court.".

Duty to investigate

This amendment clarifies the circumstances when, for the purposes of the Bill, an individual shall be "in state detention." This is a non-exhaustive list. (Paragraph …)

Page 2, Line 1, [Clause 1], at the end insert-

"(2A) For the purposes of this section, the circumstances when the deceased should be considered to have been in 'state detention' include:

(a) detention by a constable or other public authority pursuant to statutory or common law powers;

(b) detention or deprivation of liberty pursuant to the requirements of mental health legislation, including the Mental Health Act 1983 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005, as amended by the Mental Health Act 2007;

(c) the placement of a child in secure accommodation;

(d) detention pursuant to immigration and asylum legislation; and

(e) the detention of any person in custody or otherwise detained while he or she is being transported from one place to another.".

Purpose of investigation and matters to be ascertained

This amendment is intended to clarify that the purpose of an investigation will be to ascertain the circumstances of a death in cases where there could be a risk to public health and safety or in any other circumstances that the coroner determines in the public interest. (Paragraph …)

Page 4, Line 4, [Clause 5], at the end insert-

"(2A) The senior coroner may determine that the purpose of any investigation shall include ascertaining the circumstances the deceased came by his or her death where

(a) the senior coroner is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to determine that the continued or repeat occurrence of those circumstances would be prejudicial to the health and safety of members of the public, or any section of it; or

(b) the senior coroner is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to consider such circumstances in the public interest.".

Outcome of the investigation

This amendment clarifies that the limitation in clause 10(2) cannot affect the overriding duty on the coroner to fulfil the purpose of his investigation. (Paragraph …)

Page 5, Line 40, [Clause 10], at the end insert-

"(3A) Subsection 2 shall not affect the duty on the coroner to conduct an investigation which meets the requirements of Section 5.".


These amendments remove the Government's proposals to change the composition of inquest juries and restate the current position in the Coroners Act 1988 (Paragraph …)

Page 4, Line 31, [Clause 7], at the end insert-

"(d) that the death occurred in circumstances the continuance or possible recurrence of which is prejudicial to the health or safety of the public or any section of the public.".

Page 4, Line 41, [Clause 8], leave out "six, seven, eight or nine" and insert "not less than seven nor more than eleven".

Page 5, Line 17, [Clause 9], leave out paragraph (a) and insert-

"(a) the minority consists of not more than two, and".

Legal aid

This amendment requires the Secretary of State to initiate a review of Legal Aid and other funding for bereaved families in relation to inquests. (Paragraph …)

Review of access to legal aid in inquests

To move the following clause-

"(1) The Secretary of State shall, within one year after the date on which this Act receives Royal Assent, lay before both Houses of Parliament a report on access to legal aid and other funding for bereaved families in relation to inquests.

(2) The report under subsection (1) shall be prepared by a person appointed by the Secretary of State following consultation with

(a) the Lord Chief Justice; and

(b) such other persons as the Secretary of State shall consider appropriate to consult.".

Witness anonymity

These amendments propose additional safeguards in respect of the Government's proposals for witness anonymity. (Paragraph …)

Page 42, Line 5, [Clause 71], at the end insert-

"(7A) The court has the power to appoint special counsel to represent the interests of the defendant in his or her absence, if it appears to the court to be appropriate to do so in the circumstances of the case.".

Page 37, line 40, at the end insert-

"(8A) The condition in this subsection is that the Director of Public Prosecutions has given his consent to the application.".

Public order offences

This amendment removes insulting words or behaviour from the Public Order Act offences of harassment, alarm or distress. (Paragraph …)

Harassment, alarm or distress: insulting words or behaviour

To move the following clause-

"(1) The Public Order Act 1986 (c. 64) is amended as follows.

(2) In sections 5(1)(a) and 5(1)(b), the words "abusive or insulting" are replaced by the words "or abusive".".

202   Bill 72, 2008-09. Back

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