§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey)
My honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Ruth Kelly) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement today.
The House will wish to be aware of developments on the Government's plans for modernising civil registration.
On 10 July 2003 the Government published the consultation paper Civil Registration: Delivering Vital Change. This set out our proposals to reform civil registration in England and Wales using powers in the Regulatory Reform Act 2001. The proposed changes will make it easier both for citizens to deal with government at key points in their lives and in the lives of their families and for the Government to modernise this public service by exploiting improved information and communication technology. I am pleased to be able to tell the House that 56WS there were almost 3,400 responses to the consultation document. This indicates the very real interest among a wide range of stakeholders—registration practitioners and managers, the public and other interested organisations—in this area of reform.
Our intention was to introduce a regulatory reform order in this Session of Parliament. This remains the case in respect of provisions relating to registration of births and deaths and access to birth and death records. I have however decided to postpone the presentation of provisions relating to marriage till early in the next Session. The splitting of the proposals in this way will ensure that the momentum for reform is sustained, while at the same time providing an opportunity for the second regulatory reform order to take account of Parliament's wishes on the civil partnership legislation.
This strategy will not hinder the Government's plans for implementation that will begin in 2005 with improved information technology to forward registration information to the Registrar General and the structural reform of the local registration service.