14 August 2009

OpenBMDrecords - epetition response

Yes, we know its wrong but we're just going to sit here and watch.

You don't have to read too closely between the lines to get the message from the government's response to a petition on providing full and open access to old registers of English and Welsh birth, marriage and death.

Why don't they just come out and say they're making too much money out of issuing certificates to kill this particular golden goose!

Here's the official response, reproduced below.

Thank you for your e-petition which calls on the Government to provide full and open access to the registers of birth, marriage and death between 1837 and 1908.

The Government understands that many family researchers want to have full and open access to the information in historic birth, death and marriage registers and accepts that the current legislation is overly restrictive with these records.

Under current legislation - the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 and the Marriage Act 1949 - access to the information in birth, death and marriage registers is only possible by means of a certified copy (certificate) of a particular entry, when that entry has been identified from the index and the statutory fee paid. There are other pieces of legislation which allow for the release of information in birth, death and marriage registers for specific purposes, e.g. statistical data, but there is no power to provide full and open public access.

The Government proposed in 2003 a wide-ranging set of reforms to the civil registration service in England and Wales. These proposals included an intention to digitise all the records with historic records being accessible to view on a database, possibly with a small charge, but without the need to purchase a certificate. It did not prove possible to introduce the necessary legislation by a Regulatory Reform Order as we had intended and there has not been a suitable opportunity to legislate since then. Nevertheless, we remain committed to modernising the way in which these records can be accessed and the Registrar General keeps this under active review.

Thanks to Old Census Scribe for bringing this to my attention.

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