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In December 2006 the Government published the White Paper "A new system of child maintenance". This paper set out the Government's proposal to make joint birth registration the default position for birth registration. It is the Government's ambition to significantly decrease the number of sole registrations from the current level of around 7 per cent. of births per year. This Green Paper sets out how we might achieve this ambition while providing robust exemptions for the protection of vulnerable mothers and children. We have always been clear that we would
only legislate on this issue once we are sure such safeguards can be put in place and any legislation will have specific exceptions.
Joint birth registration is a positive, early intervention initiative that could form part of a wider cross government programme to promote good parenting, fatherhood and parental responsibility. The point at which a birth is registered is also an ideal time for possibly vulnerable or at risk parents to be identified.
Making joint birth registration the normal requirement, and doing more to promote and explain this requirement to parents, will publicly embed an expectation that the usual course of events is for both parents to acknowledge and be involved in the upbringing of their children.
This could also lead to positive changes in the level of fathers paying maintenance for their child's upbringing or provide a starting point for single parents to claim child maintenance where there is no longer a relationship between the parents.
The Government believe joint birth registration can make a significant contribution to child welfare and are committed to actively promoting it. This Green Paper sets out proposals to achieve this aim alongside a number of further non-legislative measures designed to maximise the number of joint registrations. The Government believe that these are critical to ensuring the success of our approach. The Green Paper asks whether these measures should be advanced as complementary to the legislative approach or developed solely within the current legislative framework.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mrs. Anne McGuire): I chaired the first meeting of the gas safety and carbon monoxide (CO) awareness Ministerial Group on 14 June. The Group agreed to support a coordinated approach to raising awareness and reducing deaths and ill health caused by CO poisoning. It also intends to meet representatives of the gas industry and others in the autumn to review their progress in delivering a programme of renewed action on raising CO awareness.
Lord McKenzie, Department for Work and Pensions (Chair)
Lord Adonis, Department for Education and Skills
Andrew Davies, Welsh Assembly Government
Nigel Dodds, Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Northern Ireland
Caroline Flint, Department of Health
Ian Pearson, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Angela Smith, Communities and Local Government
Lord Truscott, Department of Trade and Industry
Alistair Buchanan, OFGEM
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. John Hutton): I am today able to announce the annual performance targets in 2007-08 for the Pension Service executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions. The targets I have agreed are set out below.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): On behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the BFI inspection reports on Amber Valley Council, Basildon District Council, Colchester Borough Council, North Shropshire District Council and South Bedfordshire District Council were published today 26 June 2007. Copies have been placed in the Library.