HL Deb 17 February 1987 vol 484 c1085WA
Baroness Macleod of Borve

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the present position on recommendations made in the efficiency scrutiny report on the service for the Registration for Births, Deaths and Marriages in England and Wales.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Baroness Trumpington)

Following my announcement of publication of the report on 24th October 1985 (HL Deb. col 1374) we received over 350 responses to the invitation to comment on the recommendations. The views expressed were most valuable and we are grateful to those who commented.

In the light of those consultations we have rejected the proposals to close the central searching and certificate issuing facility, to introduce loose leaf registers, and to record the National Health Service number on the medical certificate of cause of death.

Many of the recommendations require primary legislation, including those on responsibility for the service, the creation of a single job of registrar dealing with marriages, birth and death registrations, and the great majority of those on procedures. Those recommendations affecting marriage law would moreover require amendment to the Marriage Acts. We have concluded that it will not be possible to legislate on these matters in this Parliament.

There is however no such obstacle to implementing the rest of the recommendations, covering local organisation of the service, staffing and pay, new technology, certain general procedures and finance. We have asked the Registrar General to pursue these recommendations, in consultation with other interested parties, including the staff interests where appropriate.

Close consultation and liaison with local authority interests will be essential. Some recommendations will be suitable for early implementation; others will require further study and piloting.

The number of local registration offices is primarily a matter for local authorities, and it will be for them to decide what action to take on those recommendations. Any reorganisation of the local registration arrangements must take account both of costs and of local demand for the service, and must ensure adequate facilities are available and accessible for the public to carry out their registration obligations.