House of Commons - Explanatory Note
House of Commons
Session 2005 - 06
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Registration Service Bill


These notes refer to the Registration Service Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 23rd November 2005 [Bill 78]




1.     These explanatory notes relate to the Registration Service Bill [Bill 78] introduced into the House of Commons on 23 November 2005. They have been prepared by the Office for National Statistics, with the consent of Dr Brian Iddon MP, the Member in charge of the Bill, in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

2.     The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.


3.     The Bill seeks to regularise the employment position of over 1700 registrars and superintendent registrars in England and Wales by making them local authority employees. As statutory officers, registrars currently have no legal employer and no recourse to employment tribunals.

4.     If enacted the Bill would, for the first time, provide the affected people with employment rights and protections taken for granted by the rest of the working population.

5.     The Bill also contains consequential amendments consistent with registrars becoming local authority employees, and to provide for future appointments to also carry local authority employee status.

[Bill 78-EN]     54/1


6.     Civil registration in England and Wales was first introduced in 1837. The system was designed to suit the needs and expectations of society at that time. The process has since changed very little. The administration of the service also remains broadly unchanged with responsibility shared between the Registrar General, local authorities and registration officers. Registration Officers are statutory post holders, appointed by the local authority, but not employed by them. In fact registrars and superintendent registrars have no legal employer. They can only be removed from office by the Registrar General.

7.     The 2002 White Paper 'Civil Registration: Vital Change' (Cm 5355) set out proposals to modernise the registration service. The proposals included the transfer of responsibility for delivering the local registration service to local authorities, with registrars and superintendent registrars becoming local authority employees.

8.     The proposals in the White Paper were subject to a public consultation in 2003, with the specific proposals in the Bill subject to detailed negotiations and agreement with local authority and staff representatives during 2005.


9.     The Bill extends only to England and Wales

10.     Clause 1 provides for registration postholders to become employees of the local authority which appointed them. It also provides for existing terms and conditions and pension rights to be unaffected by the change of status and gives continuity of service for unfair dismissal and redundancy purposes. Existing responsibilities under the Registration Acts would also be unaffected.

11.     Clause 2 provides for certain amendments to be made to the Registration Service Act 1953. These are consequential to the change of employment status to local authority employee, and remove certain powers currently vested in the Registrar General including the requirement to approve the appointment of deputy registrars and the power to remove registrars from office.

12.     Clause 3 sets out the Bill's short title, the extent of its jurisdiction, and provides for its provisions to be brought into force by Order.


13.     The provisions of the Bill have no financial implications. Local authorities already pay the salaries etc, and administer the recruitment and appointment of registration officers.


14.     The Bill will have no impact on public service manpower. The provisions seek to regularise the existing arrangements.


15.     The Bill has no impact on business, charities or voluntary organisations


16.     The Bill contain a provision for it to be brought into force by Commencement Order

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Prepared: 1 December 2005