MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that until the latter part of 1898 the public were permitted to inspect the indexes kept in the General Register Office at Somerset House for the entry of a particular birth, death, or marriage, and to peruse the entry on payment of 1s., and that such procedure was officially recognised under Regulation 9 of the printed arrangements with regard to searchers and certificates, signed by Sir Brydges P. Henniker, dated March, 1897, and publicly exhibited in the search room at Somerset House; whether this privilege has recently been curtailed, and the fee of 1s. is not now allowed to cover the perusal of the entry of birth, death, or marriage sought for; what is the reason for the present restriction; and whether he will direct that the facilities accorded 175 to the public previous to 1898 will be restored.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. HANBURY,) Preston
For a period prior to the latter part of 1898 the volumes of certified copies were as an act of grace allowed to be seen by applicants, but this concession was found in practice to be open to considerable abuse, and it became necessary to revert to the practice authorised by statute. The statutory fee of 1s. only covers the perusal of the index, and not of the volumes of certified copies.
§ MR. HANBURY
The abuse was this, that insurance offices, chiefly, sent their agents to inspect those certified copies with the idea that the 1s. fee which they paid for inspecting the index covered such inspection. Such was not the case. The statute required that a fee of 2s. 6d. in addition should be paid for a certified copy.
MR. BRYN ROBERTS
The practice may be disallowed, but it can hardly be called an abuse under the circumstances.