Registration of births and deaths
Section 39 Registration of births
75.Prior to the Act, a family had the option of registering a birth in the RD where the birth occurred or – if this was different - in the RD where the mother was usually resident. This option was important where a mother was well enough to take her new baby back to her home in another area after only a day or so in hospital, perhaps before the baby’s name was decided on. The 2 district registrars made appropriate cross-indexing arrangements, so that the birth-entry could readily be found. Computer links now allow this option to be extended to allow the birth to be registered in any Scottish RD, which is more convenient in today’s highly mobile society. Subsection (2) therefore amends the 1965 Act to specify that every child born in Scotland must be registered in the birth or still-birth registers to be kept by district registrars and dispenses with the restrictions on the choice of RD in which the birth must be registered.
76.Subsection (3) amends section 14 of the 1965 Act, by removing the requirement that a person registering the birth must attend personally at the registration office and sign the register in the presence of the registrar. This paves the way for registration of births to be initiated electronically. Birth or death registration by internet could be more convenient to the family than the present face-to-face interview with the registrar. Births are not required to be registered electronically, because many people value the help of the registrar. But personal attendance will no longer be obligatory - for electronic registration which is not face to face the opportunity for fraud will be reduced by taking advantage of advances in NHS information services, which would allow details of births and deaths to be independently corroborated before the registration of the event was finalised.
77.Subsection (4) amends section 15 of the 1965 Act, which concerns abandoned infant children, to reflect the changes described in paragraphs 76 and 77. Subsection (5) amends the registrar’s power under section 16 of the 1965 Act to obtain information concerning a birth, to reflect the same changes.
78.Subsection (6) adds 2 new sections to the 1965 Act. Both are designed to pave the way for electronic registration of birth. The first obliges NHS Health Boards to provide to the Registrar General information about every birth in their area – and for the Registrar General to make these details available to the district registrars. The second requires the district registrar, once corroborative information has been received from the health service, to complete the registration of a birth which has been initiated electronically as described in paragraph 77 above.
79.Section 17 of the 1965 Act prohibits registration more than 3 months after the birth without the written authority of the Registrar General. Subsection (7) amends that section to enable the Registrar General to authorise electronically the late registration of a birth. Subsection (8) amends section 18 of the 1965 Act, which provides for the registration of children born to unmarried parents, in order to reflect the changes described in paragraphs 76 and 77.
80.Section 39 came into operation on 1st January 2007 aside from its provisions enabling the completion of an electronic birth registration as described in paragraph 77 above. S.S.I. 2006/597 preserved the existing law pending the implementation of those provisions.
Section 40 Registration of still-births
81.Section 21 of the 1965 Act makes provision for where a still-birth may be registered (applying, unless otherwise provided for, the same rules as for a birth - as described in paragraph 76 above). It also provides for the certification of a still-birth and for the certification of registration of a still-birth. Section 40 makes minor amendments to section 21 including for documents to be attested, rather than signed, to pave the way for electronic registration of still-births. It came into force on 1st January 2007, except in relation to electronic registration as described in paragraph 81 above.
Section 41 Re-registration of births
82.Section 41 amends sections 20 and 54 of the 1965 Act. Section 20 allows the Registrar General to authorise the re-registration of a birth of any person, if:
the entry relating to him or her in the register of births is affected by any matter contained in the Register of Corrections Etc. respecting his or her status or parentage or non-parentage, or
the entry relating to him or her in the register of births has been so made as to imply that he or she was found exposed, or
the entry relating to him or her in the register of births has been so made as to imply that his or her parents were not then married to one another and the parents have subsequently married one another.
83.Section 41 allows registrars, in certain circumstances, to handle applications for the re-registration of births themselves, in addition to the Registrar General. It does so by empowering the Registrar General to prescribe cases or classes of case where a birth may be re-registered (in regulations made under section 54 of the 1965 Act, which are subject to negative resolution procedure in the Scottish Parliament).
84.The Registrar General has used this power to make the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Re-registration) (Scotland) Regulations 2007 (S.S.I. 2007/54). Those Regulations should be looked at for their full details (along with the consequential amendments made by S.S.I. 2007/52), but from 1st March 2007 local registrars can re-register a birth where:
paternity has been shown in the Register of Corrections Etc., the applicant is the child’s mother who has parental responsibilities and is also the qualified informant;
the parents have subsequently married, paternity has previously been acknowledged by statutory declaration or a court decree and the child’s father’s details are already recorded;
the child has died, details are missing from the child’s birth entry and the responsible parent wants to include either the father’s details or the parents’ marriage; or
the child is still-born and the parents apply to re-register the child’s still-birth to include either the father’s details or the parents’ subsequent marriage.
Section 42 Registration of deaths
85.Subsections (2) to (3) and (5) to (7) amend the 1965 Act provisions about the registration of deaths, in the same way that section 39(2) to (7) amends the provisions on the registration of births – see paragraphs 76, 77, 79 and 80 above.
86.Subsection (4) reflects the creation of a single registration district for each local authority area and paves the way for electronic registration by making minor amendments to section 24 of the 1965 Act, which provides for a medical certificate of cause of death.
87.Section 27 of the 1965 Act provides for a free certificate of registration of death for use by the person having charge of the place of interment or cremation. It also makes provision for the person having charge of the place of interment to notify the registrar where a burial has taken place without a certificate of registration of death. Subsection (8) makes minor consequential amendments to existing provisions as a result of the provisions in section 42 that enable a death to be registered anywhere in Scotland.
88.Section 42 came into operation on 1st January 2007, except in relation to electronic registration as described for birth registration at paragraph 80 above.