"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.
"It is clear from David Cameron’s response at Prime Minister’s Questions that he does not understand his Government’s own policy. As we approach Remembrance Sunday, David Cameron should look into this again, listen to the Royal British Legion and do the right thing for all bereaved families, who deserve an independent, expert coronial system."
At Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron was not clear on the detail of his Government’s own policy.
Mr Cameron said that the establishment of the Chief Coroner’s Office would involve "something like £10m of spending" which "could be better spent on improving all coroners’ services". However, the credibility of the Government’s figures has been questioned on numerous occasions by third parties, including the Royal British Legion, and the Government has not said it would invest in coronial reform.
Mr Cameron also said he wants to improve "all coroners’ services across the country", but that is exactly what the Chief Coroner’s Office would achieve.
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, as did several rebel Conservative MPs. 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".