§ Mr. Alex Carlile
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to place information regarding births, marriages and deaths on microfiche and make it available at archive houses; and if she will make a statement.
§ Mr. Sackville
All but the more recent indexes held in the public search room of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys are already available in microfiche form in many local libraries and record offices.
The Government White Paper, "Registration: proposals for change" (Cm 939) published in 1990, recommends that in England and Wales the civil registration records older than 75 years should be opened to public scrutiny. These records are held in hardcopy form and on microfilm. The Government proposed in the White Paper that the provision of a central record library should be offered as a contract to those who might wish to run it outside government, either as a non profit-making trust.or a commercial concern. A decision on whether the microfilm should be converted to microfiche and/or other media would have to await the outcome of negotiations with interested bodies. Open public access to the information contained in these records requires legislative change which the Government will introduce when a suitable opportunity occurs.