HC Deb 18 May 2004 vol 421 cc882-3W
Harry Cohen

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what reports he has received on delays, for administrative reasons, in the registration of births; what the latest average time(a) in London and (b) in the UK for a birth being registered is; and if he will make a statement. [174181]

Ruth Kelly

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Registrar General, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Harry Cohen, dated 18 May 2004:

As National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales, I have been asked to reply to your recent question concerning the average time taken in (a) London and (b) the UK to register a birth. (174181)

The General Register Office does not routinely collect information on administrative delays to birth registration. Responsibility for delivering the civil registration service in England and Wales is split between each of the 172 local authorities and the Registrar General for England and Wales. Complaints about administrative delays would be referred to the Proper Officer for Registration Matters appointed by each local authority with responsibility for delivery of registration services.

The length of the interval between birth and registration may be influenced by parental choice or circumstances. For example, the interval may be longer than it would otherwise have been if the father is not immediately available to attend the register office along with the mother, or if the parents are undecided on the child's name. If parents express concern about a delay in the registration because of non-availability of a registrar, that concern would be addressed by the local authority.

A fundamental review of civil registration is being undertaken currently which, if the necessary changes in law are implemented, will extend the means available to the public for registering events. In addition to the existing face-to-face interview with the registrar, it is proposed to introduce the facility for telephone and internet registration. Reforms are being introduced by means of an Order under the Regulatory Reform Act. An Order is due to be presented later this session.

The average interval between occurrence and registration of births to women usually resident in London was 24.1 days in 2003. The equivalent figure for England and Wales was 17.9 days. Civil registration is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and further information is available from the General Register Offices of these countries.