§ 2. Mr. Golding
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will take steps to improve the procedures followed in cases where local insurance officers contest a coroner's decision that death has arisen from industrial causes.
§ Mr. Golding
Will the Minister be prepared to listen to representatives of the North Staffordshire miners who have drawn my attention to the amount of distress caused to widows whose hopes have been raised by coroners' verdicts and then dashed by the advice of pneumoconiosis panels?
§ Mr. O'Malley
I should tell my hon. Friend that, although no figures are available, the impression of my advisers is that disagreements between the pneumoconiosis panels and the coroners are not common. However, I am prepared to consider any representations by my hon. Friend on what is a very difficult subject and, of course, I should be pleased to meet 218 a delegation on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend.
Mr. Mark Hughes
Does my hon. Friend accept that this whole problem of the relationship between the pneumoconiotic's widow, the coroners and the panel causes great offence in many mining areas where the widow's expectations are greatly raised? In support of my hon. Friend who raised this matter, I agree that it is a widespread and deeply hurtful procedure.
§ Mr. O'Malley
I know that there are strong views on this subject, particularly in the coalfields. I should tell my hon. Friend, however, that in many areas coroners postpone their conclusions on the cause of death until the advice of the pneumoconiosis panels is available. This practice was approved by the Brodrick Committee on Death Certification and Coroners, which was in favour of the extension of that practice. I think that may be helpful.