Coronavirus Bill

Kevan Jones Excerpts
2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons
Monday 23rd March 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Coronavirus Act 2020 View all Coronavirus Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 23 March 2020 - (23 Mar 2020)
Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend makes an important point. We are absolutely clear that we are prepared to take the action that is necessary.

The fourth part of the Bill contains measures for managing the deceased in circumstances where many of those involved in the registration and management of death will themselves be self-isolating. We want to ensure that those taken from us by the virus are treated with the utmost dignity, while protecting public health and respecting the wishes of bereaved families. Among other measures, the Bill will expand the list of people who can register a death to include funeral directors. It will mean that coroners only have to be notified where there is not a medical professional available to sign a death certificate. It will allow death certificates to be emailed instead of physically presented. It will remove the need for a second confirmatory medical certificate in order for a cremation to take place, and it gives local authorities the power to take control of elements of the process if needed. Those powers would only be used if absolutely necessary and on clinical advice, but we plan for the worst, even while we work for the best.

Kevan Jones Portrait Mr Kevan Jones (North Durham) (Lab)
- Hansard - -

The Secretary of State will know that a new medical examiner system has been introduced in many areas, including Durham. Their role is to look into deaths in hospitals, so they will be inundated if there is a large number of deaths. Is there any provision in the Bill that loosens up their role? Otherwise, they will be overwhelmed by the number of examinations that they will have to do.

Matt Hancock Portrait Matt Hancock
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I very much hope that they will not be. The medical examiners regime is very successful, and as the right hon. Gentleman says, we are expanding it across the country. We do not deem that necessary, not least because we think that we can expand it if necessary. We do not think that there is a need for statutory change in an area that is improving.