Regulatory Reform Committee

Session 2003-04        23 July 2004

Committee to scrutinise proposals for change to Birth and Death Registration Law

The proposal for the Regulatory Reform (Registration of Births and Deaths) Order was laid before Parliament on 22 July. The Regulatory Reform Committee will begin its scrutiny of this proposal immediately after the Summer Recess.

The proposal to amend civil registration law would:-

•     enable members of the public to register births and deaths online, in person and by telephone;

•     allow people to use any register office, in England and Wales, to register births and deaths;

•     give responsibility for the delivery of face-to-face services to local authorities, and

•     provide new arrangements for access to births and deaths registration information.

Regulatory Reform Committee Chairman, Peter Pike MP, said "We recognise that this proposal is intended to make wide-ranging changes to how births and deaths are registered, and may have a serious impact on who can access birth and death records. Our job is to examine it on behalf of the House to see whether it passes the tests laid down in the Regulatory Reform Act, to recommend whether it should be proceeded with and, if so, to recommend whether it should be amended."

Members of the public and interested parties are welcome to put their views on the proposal before the Committee. Submissions should initially be made in writing. They should be as concise as possible and should concentrate on one or more of the criteria set out in the Committee's Order of Reference.

Details of how to make a written submission are set out below. Submissions for consideration by the Committee should be sent to arrive no later than Friday 17 September 2004.

The Committee will normally decide on the basis of written submissions whether to take oral evidence. If it decides to take oral evidence, the programme of evidence will be announced in mid-October.

Submissions should be made in writing to the Clerk of the Committee at the above address.  If possible, an electronic version (in Word or RTF) should be sent by e-mail to [email protected] or on a disk accompanying the hard copy.  Witnesses who are unable to submit electronic versions of their submissions are respectfully requested to take particular care that their submissions are legible. 

Once a submission has been made, it is for the Committee to decide the manner and timing of publication.  Witnesses should consult the Clerk if they wish to publish their submissions.

The proposal for the Regulatory Reform (Registration of Births and Deaths) Order was laid on 22 July 2004 by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Ruth Kelly MP. The proposal is available on the General Register Office website:

The Committee's Order of Reference requires it to consider and report whether a proposal for an RRO:-

(a) appears to make an inappropriate use of delegated legislation;

(b) removes or reduces a burden or the authorisation or requirement of a burden;

(c) continues any necessary protection;

(d) has been the subject of, and has taken appropriate account of, adequate consultation;

(e) imposes a charge on the public revenues;

(f) purports to have retrospective effect;

(g) gives rise to doubts whether it is intra vires;

(h) requires elucidation, is not written in plain English or appears to be defectively drafted;

(i) appears to be incompatible with any obligation resulting from EU membership;

(j) prevents any person from continuing to exercise any right or freedom which he might reasonably expect to continue to exercise;

(k) satisfies the conditions of proportionality between burdens and benefits set out in the 2001 Act;

(l) satisfies the test of desirability set out in the 2001 Act;

(m) has been the subject of, and takes appropriate account of, estimates of increases or reductions in costs or other benefits, and

(n) includes provisions to be designated in the draft order as subordinate provisions, and, if so, to recommend the Parliamentary procedure appropriate to them.