HC Deb 23 May 1963 vol 678 cc628-9
34. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what study he has made of the report of a committee of the British Medical Association relating to death certificates, postmortem examinations and kindred matters, a copy of which has been sent to him; and if he will now introduce amending legislation which will, inter alia, require a doctor to examine the body before issuing a death certificate.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State to the Home Department (Mr. C. M. Woodhouse)

I understand that the report referred to has been prepared by a committee of the Association and is awaiting consideration by the Council. When my right hon. Friend receives it he will of course consider its recommendations in consultation with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. Robinson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there has been a good deal of concern for some time because doctors are not required to examine bodies before giving death certificates and that there is a reluctance to accept the argument that this would place too great a burden on the medical profession? Now that the medical profession seems to be coming round to the idea, will he give the matter consideration when he gets the report?

Mr. Woodhouse

I am aware of this concern, because we have seen the Report although, despite the assertion in the Question, we had to go out and buy it for ourselves. As I indicated in the original reply, many of the matters which are covered are the responsibility of other Departments. This matter falls to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, but I will convey the hon. Member's point to him.

Mr. Kershaw

Will my hon. Friend look into this rather carefully because on many occasions relatives of those who have died in hospital have been very distressed as to whether a post mortem should or should not have been ordered? The situation is not satisfactory.

Mr. Woodhouse

I assure my hon. Friend that the matter will be very carefully looked into, but as I indicated, some of the recommendations are the responsibility of other Departments.