HL Deb 17 March 2005 vol 670 cc10-2WS
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey)

My honourable friend the Financial Secretary (Mr Stephen Timms) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The House will wish to be aware of developments in the Government's plans for modernising civil registration.

On 29 March 2004, my predecessor Ruth Kelly announced that a draft regulatory reform order containing provisions relating to the registration of birth and deaths in England and Wales would be presented to Parliament during that Session and that presentation of the proposals relating to marriage would be postponed until the present Session.

The Regulatory Reform (Registration of Births and Deaths) (England Wales) Order 2004 was presented to Parliament on 22 July 2004. The Commons' Regulatory Reform Committee and the Lords' Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee published their reports towards the end of last year concluding that use of the order-making powers of the 2001 Act is inappropriate for modernisation of the registration service in respect of births and deaths. In the light of those reports, I am no longer planning to bring forward a draft regulatory reform order to reform marriage law.

This Government remain committed to the modernisation of the registration service in England and Wales. This service, with its roots in the 19th century, touches everyone during their lives and it is important that it reflects the needs of society, families and individuals. Modernisation will provide more choice for the public in how they deal with the service, improved service delivery and easier public interaction with government on a wider range of services.

I am actively looking for ways of delivering the key elements of civil registration modernisation and will be working with stakeholders over the coming months to agree a way forward. I will seek Parliamentary approval at appropriate times. In the meantime, new and more modern technology is planned to be introduced that will make it easier for members of the public to deal with the local registration service.