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GOVERNMENT GOES AHEAD WITH MODERNISATION OF CIVIL REGISTRATION

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The green light for reforms of the civil registration system to modernise the delivery of the local birth, marriage...
The green light for reforms of the civil registration system to modernise the delivery of the local birth, marriage and death registration service in England and Wales has been given by the government.

This follows consultation with local authorities, registration officers and other representative groups on a proposed new governance framework for the registration service.

In a written statement to parliament yesterday, financial secretary to the Treasury John Healey said:

'I announced to the House on 16 November 2005 (Official Report, Col 51WS) the publication of the consultation paper 'Registration Modernisation' containing proposals for giving local authorities greater responsibility and accountability for the delivery of the local registration service in England and Wales. The consultation paper also included other proposals to modernise civil registration.

'Around 150 responses were received to the consultation paper from local authorities, registration officers, specific interest groups, national and regional groups, and representative organisations. There was overwhelming agreement from the full range of respondents that a new governance framework is long overdue and almost unanimous support from local authorities and regional local authority groups to the proposed revised framework.

'The government intends to push ahead with the new governance arrangements and other changes which can be taken forward under existing legislation.

'The General Register Office will work with the Local Authority Coordinators of Regulatory Services and the Society of Registration Officers to agree national standards and over the next two months aim to finalise the guidance to be issued to local authorities. The guidance will also seek to deal with the concerns about the employment position of registration officers raised in response to the consultation. The government will keep under review the need for legislation on other aspects of civil registration.

'I have placed a copy of the report on the response to the consultation paper in the Libraries of both Houses'.

The consultation paper, Registration Modernisation, set out how local authorities in England and Wales are to be given greater responsibility and accountability for providing the local registration service, and gave details of other changes being introduced to take forward the modernisation of civil registration.

Under these proposals, many of the rigid and redundant controls of the current system of registration would be removed allowing local authorities more control to decide, within a national standards framework, how best to meet the needs of local people.

The consultation paper also included proposals for changing the legal employment status of registration officers, following agreement with the unions and employers. The proposals would see full employment rights given to over 1,800 registrars and superintendent registrars, as they become local authority employees.

Financial Secretary to Treasury's written statement

Outcome of consultation on 'Registration Modernisation'

Notes

1. The registration service for England and Wales was established in 1837, and provides a national system for the registration of births, deaths and marriages. It is headed by Karen Dunnell, the Registrar General for England and Wales, who is also the National Statistician and Director of the Office for National Statistics. 2. The service is administered by the Registrar General in partnership with local authorities. The Registrar General is responsible for the technical standards of the service while local authorities recruit, pay and provide the accommodation for registration officers.

3. Registration officers are statutory officers whose conditions of service are set out in the various acts and regulations relating to the registration of births, deaths and marriages. They have no legal employer, but the Registrar General has the power to remove them from office.

4. In September 1999, the consultation document 'Registration: Modernising a Vital Service' was published. Approximately 1,000 responses were received. These have been used in developing a framework for the registration service in the future. This framework was outlined in a White Paper 'Civil Registration: Vital Change' published on 22 January 2002.

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