Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more


  • Comment
Government proposals to modernise the way people in England and Wales ...
Government proposals to modernise the way people in England and Wales

can register a birth and death and access birth and death information

were today presented to parliament by the financial secretary to the

Treasury, Ruth Kelly.

The proposals are contained in a Draft Regulatory Reform Order that

will amend current legislation on birth and death registration to:

- Give citizens the choice of registering births and deaths

online or by telephone, as well as in person

- Allow people to use any register office to register births and


- Give responsibility for the delivery of face-to-face services

to local authorities

- Provide new arrangements for access to births and deaths

registration information

At present the law only allows registration in person and requires

each birth or death to be registered in the area where it occurred.

While local authorities already play a key role in providing a local

registration service there are legal constraints on how they deliver

that service.

New records of births and deaths will be kept in a central database.

Over time, existing registration records can be computerised and

added to the database. Birth and death information will be easier to

find electronically though some data will be restricted in order to

protect privacy. The use of certificates within government and more

widely will reduce as more computerised information is available.

The proposed changes will make it easier for citizens to deal with

government at key points in their, and their families, lives. People

will find it easier to apply for a passport or driving licence or deal

with a relative's estate after death using electronic information as they

will not have to provide certificates in support of their


Commenting on the proposals, Ms Kelly said: 'Presenting

the Order to parliament represents the next, very important stage in

the modernisation of civil registration. The proposals have been

heavily influenced by the views of a wide range of stakeholders

including members of the public, staff who work in the local

registration service and other interested parties. I have no doubt

that members of both houses will take a keen interest in these

proposed reforms and will make a valuable and constructive

contribution to them'.

Ms Kelly continued: 'If parliament does agree the changes, they will

result in a major improvement in the quality of service provided to

people who need to register a birth or death.'

The draft Order is accompanied by an Explanatory Document setting out

in detail all the relevant information about the proposals including

any representations received as a result of the consultation and any

changes that the minister has made to the original proposals in the

light of those representations.

The requirements for public consultation and thorough scrutiny by two

parliamentary committees are vital features of the powers in the

Regulatory Reform Act 2001. The consultation document 'Civil

Registration: Delivering Vital Change', issued under the powers of

the 2001 Act, was published on 10 July 2003. The closing date for

responses was 24 October 2003. There were 3370 responses to the

consultation document.

Once presented to parliament there will be a two-stage scrutiny as

set out in the 2001 Act. The parliamentary process is expected to

take about a year which means that the Regulatory Reform Order could

be on the statute book by summer 2005.

Proposals to modernise civil registration presented to parliament


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.

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


5. The order-making powers in the Regulatory Reform Act 2001

require the responsible minister to consult on the legal changes

necessary for reform before presenting proposals, including a draft

Regulatory Reform Order, to parliament. Scrutiny of the proposals

takes place in both Houses of Parliament by the House of Commons

Regulatory Reform Committee and the House of Lords Delegated Powers

and Regulatory Reform Committee. Regulatory Reform Orders are finally

subject to affirmative resolution by both Houses.

6. The House of Commons Regulatory Reform Committee has also

issued a News Release. It sets out that any further views on the

proposals in the draft Order should be made in writing, be as concise

as possible and arrive no later than 16 September 2004. Any

submission should be sent to The Clerk, Regulatory Reform Committee,

House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA or and should concentrate on one or more of the

following criteria -

'Whether the proposals:

(a) appear to make an inappropriate use of delegated legislation;

(b) remove or reduce a burden or the authorisation or requirement

of a


(c) continue any necessary protection;

(d) have been the subject of, and take appropriate account of,



(e) imposea charge on the public revenues or contain provisions

requiring payments to be made to the Exchequer or any government

department or to any local or public authority in consideration of

any licence or consent or of any services to be rendered, or

prescribe the amount of any such charge or payment;

(f) purport to have retrospective effect;

(g) give rise to doubts whether they are intra vires;

(h) require elucidation, are not written in plain English, or

appear to

be defectively drafted; or

(i) appear to be incompatible with any obligation resulting from

membership of the European Union;

(j) prevent any person from continuing to exercise any right or


which he might reasonably expect to continue to exercise;

(k) satisfy the conditions of proportionality between burdens and

benefits set out in sections 1 and 3 of the Act;

(l) satisfy the test of desirability set out in section 3(2)(b) of



(m) have been the subject of, and take appropriate account of,


of increases or reductions in costs or other benefits which may

result from their implementation; or include provisions to be

designated in the draft order as subordinate provisions; and in the

case of the latter consideration the committee shall report its

opinion whether such a designation should be made, and to what

parliamentary proceedings any subordinate provisions orders should be


  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.