Thursday, 8 July 2010

Public access to English and Welsh BMD registers?

From Guy Etchells:

A review, chaired by Paul Dacre of the 30 year rule, recommended that it be reduced to 15 years in its report January 2009.

In his submission to the review Anthony Camp, M.B.E. suggested that all historic records of Birth, Marriage and Death be made open to the Public.

It is high time these records were openly accessible there is absolutely no good reason for them to remain regulated and only accessible by purchasing certified copies.

The records used to be open to public inspection. From the start of civil registration the public could carry out searches in the registers of Birth, Marriage and Death. In 1898 the then Registrar General took it upon himself to close the records held at the GRO even though there was no change in the law to allow for such unilateral action.

Similarly in 1974 many local Registrars closed the registers they held to public searches even though a public search of the registers was written in to the various applicable Acts of Parliament.

I therefore suggest that the coalition government release all historic registers of Birth, Marriage and Death to allow private enterprise to digitise and make those records available online.

Such a move would create employment in the private sector, reduce costs and pressure on the General Register Office. This would allow staff to concentrate on their core activities and increase productivity.

In addition the sale of digitised copies of historic Birth, Marriage and Death certificates would create useful revenue in these times of need.

If you agree with Guy's suggestions, please visit his submission to the Your Freedom website at and register your support.

I've occasionally written about how ludicrous it is that the English and Welsh are discriminated against in this regard. We enjoy the privilege of seeing such records at the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh, with records available right up to the present day. You have to wonder how a so called United Kingdom can be defined as 'united' when some of its citizens have rights of access to some of their records, and others denied the same rights to the equivalent records in their neck of the woods. Genealogically, we're in a two tier Britain, and it's not the laws at fault, despite our separate legal systems - it's those interpreting those laws.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are one Island one nation of course all registers should be opened for every ones benefit.