Births and deaths to be registered online

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has unveiled ambitious proposals to introduce electronic registration of births, deaths...

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has unveiled ambitious proposals to introduce electronic registration of births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales.

Len Cook, registrar general for England and Wales, announced the multimillion- pound e-registration strategy as part of the recently launched white paper, Civil Registration: Vital Change.

Officials predict that by 2004 people will be able to register major life events via the Internet or by telephone. Currently births, death and marriages must be registered in person.

A spokesman for the ONS said, "The new proposals are a big step forward in giving people a choice of how to register life events."

The Government estimates that the massive task of creating a "through life" electronic record for every person in England and Wales could take five years at an estimated cost of £1m a year. There is also speculation that the Government will outsource the construction of a central e-registration database.

The spokesman commented, "It is hard to tell exactly how much the proposed scheme is going to cost and it is too early to say how much of the scheme will be outsourced."

Officials are adamant, however, that the project will not join the list of government IT disasters, such as the Passport Office fiasco. The proposed scheme will be phased in gradually

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