HC Deb 22 November 1974 vol 881 cc559-60W
Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, for the purposes of registration of births, deaths and marriages in Wales, in the absence of a specific linguistic request by the providers of information for registration, the registrars are required to complete appropriate documents in Welsh only, bilingually or in English only, or whether the matter of language is left to the discretion of the individual registrar.

Mr. Alec Jones

Births and deaths in Wales must be registered in English and may be registered in Welsh as well if the person giving information so wishes and can give the particulars in Welsh and if the registration officer to whom it is given can understand and write Welsh. The choice rests with the informant and not with the registrar.

Similarly, marriages in Wales are required to be registered in English but the parties may, if they wish, have the marriage registered bilingually provided they can give the particulars in Welsh as well as English and the person by whom the marriage is registered can understand and write Welsh.

Posters drawing attention to the provisions are displayed in all registration offices and in all cases where facilities can be made available for the bilingual registration of births and deaths registrars are instructed to ask the informant whether he wishes to have a bilingual registration.

Whenever notice of a marriage in Wales is given to a superintendent registrar in Wales the person giving it is asked whether he will wish to have the marriage registered bilingually and if he does, then, where the marriage is to be attended by a registrar, every effort is made to provide an officer who can understand and write Welsh. For marriages according to the rites of the Church in Wales or in other places of worship where the presence of a registrar is not required arrangements for providing the facilities for bilingual registration which the law allows are a matter for the incumbent or other person by whom the marriage must be registered.

In 75 per cent. of registration districts in Wales the superintendent registrar or his deputy is Welsh-speaking and can, therefore, carry out the preliminaries to the marriage bilingually if the person giving notice so wishes. In 68 per cent. of sub-districts there is a Welsh-speaking registrar or deputy.

In the three months ended 31st March 1974, the latest quarter for which provisional figures are available, the proportion of events in Wales registered bilingually was as follows: births, 1.4 per cent.; deaths, 0.3 per cent.; marriages, 1 per cent.