All 1 Christopher Chope contributions to the Registers of Births and Deaths Bill 2021-22

Registers of Births and Deaths Bill Debate

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Department: Home Office

Registers of Births and Deaths Bill

Christopher Chope Excerpts
Saqib Bhatti Portrait Saqib Bhatti
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My hon. Friend makes a good point and I would certainly welcome our looking into that at a later stage. It makes sense that the Bill could bring some environmental benefits.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
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Does my hon. Friend share my concern that many of these registrations of deaths during covid have inaccurate information on them? They say the death is caused by covid or with covid, when the nearest and dearest of the people who have died often say there was no covid involved at all. There is a lot of inaccuracy. How does his Bill address that?

Saqib Bhatti Portrait Saqib Bhatti
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I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention and I recognise that he has always been a doughty champion of parliamentary scrutiny. I do not share that concern in reference to my Bill because the reason for the deaths is stipulated by the coroner, which is outside the scope of the Bill.

Saqib Bhatti Portrait Saqib Bhatti
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I thank the Minister for that clarification.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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But does that not highlight the difficulty that, if somebody registers a death on the telephone, they may not have access to the death certificate and may find that the death is registered with inaccurate information from the death certificate?

Saqib Bhatti Portrait Saqib Bhatti
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I think that is transmitted directly to the registrar, who is of course independent. That creates a check and balance in the process, from my perspective.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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My hon. Friend says the information that comes from the death certificate is transmitted directly to the registrar. That is right, but if the person who is the nearest and dearest does not know what is contained in that death certificate and is concerned about its accuracy, the death could be registered with information that the nearest and dearest disagreed with.

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Saqib Bhatti Portrait Saqib Bhatti
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I thank the Minister for further clarification on that point.

I mentioned that I spoke to the National Association of Funeral Directors, and I am sure the whole House will pay tribute to the funeral industry, which, like many parts of our community, has worked incredibly hard over the past 12 to 18 months due to covid. I certainly pay tribute to funeral directors for their hard work.

Registering a death has traditionally been a paper-driven process and has often been hindered by delays in the system, which serve to increase the gap between the death and the funeral. In fact, a survey of NAFD members in 2021 confirmed that 82% of funeral directors felt that processing the forms digitally was working either well or very well, and almost 80% of respondents confirmed that they rarely or never experienced delays in the registration of deaths.

But I would go further: if we have the chance today to ease the pain of any individual who is grieving, we ought to take that opportunity. That is the opportunity I believe this Bill presents. The last thing anyone who is grieving wants to do is to make that journey—sometimes a very long journey—to the registrar to register a death. Being able to do so electronically may provide some relief in an otherwise difficult time. I reassure my hon. Friends that, as has already been mentioned, this Bill does not make any changes to the information that is to be recorded in an entry, such as who can act as a qualified informant. That remains the same in the case of a birth or a death.

A further change that clause 1 makes to current procedure relates to how information is given to the superintendent registrar. Currently, registrars are required to submit copies of all the birth and death entries that they have registered in the last quarter to their superintendent registrar through a system of quarterly returns. When received from the registrar, the superintendent registrar certifies all the entries as being true copies of the birth and death entries in the registers, and forwards them to the Registrar General. The Registrar General holds a central repository of all births and deaths registered in England and Wales, which is then completed electronically using the electronic system.

My Bill removes that administrative burden, because the move to an electronic register would make the system of quarterly returns unnecessary. Following the registration of a birth or death in the electronic register, the entry would immediately be available to the superintendent registrar and Registrar General without having to complete the quarterly return process from the paper registers.

I turn briefly to the clauses. As already explained, clause 1 removes the duplication of processes and no longer requires the upkeep of a paper register. Instead, all registrations of births and deaths will be processed on to the electronic register. The clause also ends the administrative burden of quarterly returns, as I have stated, as the electronic register will make birth and death entries available to the Registrar General and the superintendent registrar immediately.

Clause 2 makes arrangements for the equipment and facilities to be maintained by local authorities. It makes it clear that all local authorities must provide and maintain the relevant equipment and facilities that the Registrar General deems necessary for all register and sub-district register offices.

Clause 3 introduces a new power that amends the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 and allows the Minister to bring before the House new regulations in respect of non-paper registration. Where someone complies with specific requirements, such as the provision of identification, they will be treated as having signed the register in the presence of the registrar.

Crucially, if passed by the House under the affirmative procedure, provision may be made to include the signing of something other than the register, so that a wet signature would not be required and an electronic one would be acceptable. Those requirements would have to be put to the House in further legislation. The clause makes it clear that the Government can do so only under the affirmative procedure, which means that the provisions must be laid before and approved by both Houses of Parliament.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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Can my hon. Friend explain how that fits with the provisions of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981?

Saqib Bhatti Portrait Saqib Bhatti
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My hon. Friend makes a good point. I admit that I am less au fait with that Act; I know that he was instrumental in helping to make some of the provisions originally. The provision will be considered further in Committee, where I would welcome his input if he were so inclined.

Clause 4 deals with the treatment of the current paper records, which date back to 1836. It requires the registrar to keep and maintain all registers in paper form. Clause 5 brings the schedule into effect. Clause 6 provides the power to make further consequential provisions, including any changes to primary legislation which, to reiterate, would be done through the affirmative procedure only. Clause 7, the commencement clause, comes into effect the day the Bill is passed. It is also worth noting that the Bill does not require a money resolution or a Ways and Means resolution.

In conclusion, the Bill modernises our registration system and makes it more efficient. I hope that we can look back on this debate in years to come as the moment when we collectively made our constituents’ lives more convenient at a time of their lives that can often be pivotal—a moment of happiness or, in the case of deaths, of great tragedy. I urge hon. Members to support the Bill and commend its provisions to the House.

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Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart
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My hon. Friend raises a valid point and I absolutely agree.

The Bill removes the requirement for paper registers to be held and stored securely in each registration district, and with records already stored electronically there is no need for on-paper storage. This will save space and eliminate the cost of that extra storage, as explained by my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden. As paper comes from trees, going paperless by utilising electronic document management systems helps cut down on deforestation and pollution, leaving more trees to absorb carbon dioxide, helping to mitigate climate change.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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My hon. Friend is rightly concerned about hacking down trees unnecessarily but will she address her remarks to the problem of hacking electronic records?

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Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Sally-Ann Hart). I hope to be able to share with her a cautionary tale about the consequences of putting blind faith in digitalisation. Before I do so, I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Saqib Bhatti) on introducing this Bill, which I think was a presentation Bill rather than a balloted Bill. However, I think he made the wrong choice about the topic for debate, because, as he has said, this proposal was debated and was the subject of a balloted Bill in the last Session of Parliament.

At that time, our right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) promoted it, brought it before the House for a Second Reading debate for about three quarters of an hour and kindly offered to let me serve on the Committee, although that offer never materialised. My right hon. Friend told me, in a very courteous letter, that he thought that it was because of covid, but I think that it was just because the invitation never materialised. If it had materialised, I would have been more than happy to serve on the Committee. As I was not able to serve on that Committee, I tried to amend the legislation on Report, but unfortunately there was only one minute for my speech on 12 March.

Saqib Bhatti Portrait Saqib Bhatti
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I reiterate my invitation to my hon. Friend to join me on the Committee. We can address any concerns that he may have at that stage.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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I am grateful for that offer and shall certainly take it up, because a lot needs to be amended in the Bill. When I tabled amendments on Report last time, they were set out on the amendment paper on 12 March, but we were not able to make much progress. It disappoints me that my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden has so far shown no willingness to take on board any of the suggestions put forward in those amendments, the essence of which was to try to ensure that we still have physical, hard copy registers alongside e-registers, so that we do not facilitate fraud and corruption in our registration service.

There has been a lot of talk of those of us who believe in having a hard copy record being backwards, and those who believe absolutely in modern technology and electronic records being the great modernisers, but let me share with the House a current live constituency case, about which I have written to the Home Office, as will become apparent in the course of my remarks.

The case is of a Ghanaian citizen, who has a Ghanaian passport. He came to this country about 20 years ago and now wishes to become a British citizen; he has indefinite leave to remain, and a driving licence, national insurance number and all the rest of it. His Ghanaian passport and his driving licence correctly identify his name, which consists of one forename and two surnames. I am not going to shout out his name in the House now, because I still hope that we will get a satisfactory answer out of the Department without the need to name and shame it publicly. He applied for British citizenship on 5 May 2021, and that was approved, subject to him attending a citizenship ceremony to receive his certificate. The certificate was issued correctly with his full name—his first name and his two surnames—so he thought that everything was fine. He then applied for a British passport and the Passport Office informed him that his surname did not match his citizenship certificate because only one name had been recorded as his surname. Subsequently, he spoke to the Home Office customer service team and was advised to fill in a form and post the certificate, with any proof of his correct name, to the Home Office. He sent off all that material—including his Ghanaian passport, his driving licence and, as the Home Office instructed, his cut-up indefinite leave to remain card—at the beginning of August.

The website said that corrections to citizenship certificates take 24 working days. After three months had elapsed, he contacted me and I contacted the Home Office. On 26 November, perhaps in anticipation of this debate, I received a reply from UK Visas and Immigration that sets out a whole lot of facts that we already know and I have shared with the House, and that the requested amendment is still outstanding. It says:

“Please be assured that this is being processed…In the meantime, an application can be expedited”.

I had already explained that the lack of his documents was preventing him from being able to start work as a van driver. That remains the situation.

Flick Drummond Portrait Mrs Drummond
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My hon. Friend is demonstrating very well why we should have electronic records: they can be passed forward and backwards much quicker than paper copies, which can also be lost in transit.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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The point is that there was an inaccurate translation. When he got his citizenship certificate, somebody mistransposed the full names and put just one surname on his certificate rather than two surnames. That is an example of what happens when we rely on electronic records rather than the actual records, because he is now having to prove to the Home Office—and it is taking a long time, as I have been explaining—that his name is as it is set out on his driving licence and in his Ghanaian passport. He is fortunate that he still had his original records, which we assume have not been lost in the post.

Suzanne Webb Portrait Suzanne Webb
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That is just one example; I would like to see far more examples of digitalisation having gone wrong in computer records. As someone who spent more than 29 years in a business that was very technology-driven—I started in 1989 in a company that was all about technology and computerisation—I assure you that such instances are few and far between. I can guarantee you that it is more than likely that an error would be made in a handwritten record, not through digitalisation.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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Well, Madam Deputy Speaker, you have a lot to answer for.

Handwritten errors can be identified and corrected. If there is fraud in handwriting, that can be subject to prosecution under the Forgery Act; if a digital record is inaccurate, either through accident or by design, it is very difficult to prosecute under the Forgery Act—in fact, I am not aware of any way in which it could be.

Tom Randall Portrait Tom Randall
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Let us return to the subject of the debate, which is the births and deaths register. The two systems have been running in parallel since 2009; does my hon. Friend have any evidence to adduce that there has ever been any mistake that would have been corrected had there been a paper record rather than an electronic one?

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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I do not have any evidence on that either way. The whole purpose of the 2009 regulations was that we would still have the hard-copy back-up system. Now, having put those regulations through on the basis that there would be a hard-copy back-up system, the Government say 11 or 12 years later that we do not need one, and can rely on the electronic system. That, I think, is playing fast and loose with the House. Why did the Government introduce regulations in 2009 to amend the system while still assuring the House that hard-copy records would be retained, and why, all these years later, are they seeking to abandon them? I am very concerned about that, but let me now finish the story about my constituent.

As I said earlier, I received a reply on 26 November saying that if my constituent required the return of his documents urgently he could submit a request, but I had already submitted a request for the return of his documents to the Home Office on his behalf. The letter made no reference at all to the fact that while this delay continues, and this muddle continues unresolved, he is unable to work. It is outrageous.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stourbridge (Suzanne Webb) said that this was just one example. I do not want to detain the House with a whole lot of other examples, but we do know that the hacking of computer records is prolific. It is widespread. It has led to large public companies, and indeed Government Departments, suffering severe fines, penalties and reprimands because of their inability to keep accurate data and protect themselves against hacking processes.

Even in the corridor just outside my office in this wonderful building, there is a great big poster—I think it is the only poster up there—about how we in this place are under continuous cyber-attack. If we are indeed under continuous cyber-attack, why are some of my colleagues so relaxed about it? I see no grounds whatever for being relaxed, and I think we should be very vigilant and protective of our paper record system.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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The crux of the matter, it seems to me, is that there must be some great injustice in the current system if it needs to be changed. If the only reason for changing it is modernisation, we as Conservatives should not be supporting it—but perhaps my hon. Friend knows what the problem is with the current system.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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That takes me on to the question of how we got to where we are now. For those interested in the background to this, let me explain that one of the former Members for the Christchurch constituency, George Rose, proposed a Bill to overhaul the registration system. He did that in 1812, and Hansard reported at the time:

“It must, he thought”—

this refers to my predecessor—

“be universally allowed, that parish registers were of great importance to all ranks and classes of people from the nobleman to the peasant; and it was highly desirable they should be regularly entered, and safely deposited. At present, instead of being kept in the house of the clergyman of each parish, they were kept in a very slovenly manner in the dwelling of the parish clerk, and he had found, as Treasurer of the Navy”—

in those days you could double up these jobs—

“numberless instances of the widows of seamen, who, from this culpable negligence, were not able to prove their marriages.”

The legislation was passed, and proved to be inadequate. That ultimately led to the 1875 Act, which is the core of our current system. Under our current system, almost all the people who are born have their details recorded. I think that, according to the latest information available, there are about 20 cases a year in which people are born without having their details accurately recorded.

Fundamental to the issue is that it is a basic legal requirement to have a birth registration, and birth registration—I hope the Minister agrees—is one of our most fundamental human rights. The United Nations convention on the rights of the child acknowledges that every child should be registered immediately after birth. We now say that should be six weeks, and we have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden and others that it can be very burdensome for someone to go off and get their child registered.

All I can say is that my daughter gave birth to a little baby girl about a fortnight ago, and she and my son-in-law are much looking forward to going to the district register office in Lymington to record the details, including the name, of their daughter. Whatever happens, that record will be on paper as well as being an electronic record. How sad that it seems to be the intent of the Government that, in the future, people who are lucky enough to have children will not be able to have the privilege of a proper written birth certificate—a hard copy holograph birth certificate. I think that that is quite an unnecessary restriction on those fundamental freedoms.

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster
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To be absolutely clear, that is not the Government’s intent. The law will still provide for hard-copy birth certificates.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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What my hon. Friend is referring to is like saying, “When I print off an email, it’s a hard copy.” It is not a hard copy; it is emailed and printed off. The Minister is talking about an electric record that can be reproduced in hard copy form. If we are talking about hard-hard copies, then, as I asked earlier, how does that fit in with the Forgery Act? Obviously, hard copies depend on having holograph signatures, and we hear that in this Bill there is the power for people to be able to register births without having to provide any signature at all unless they can send their signature by electronic means to the registration district. This is a very serious issue.

Without dwelling any more on the history of the Act, let me just say that throughout the mid-19th century, the only blip on issues relating to birth registrations, which were increasing the whole time, was the Vaccination Act 1853, which tied compulsory vaccination of all infants to their registration and gave powers for parents to be fined for non-compliance. As always happens with the law of good intentions, it ended out quite differently because as it was the local registrar who informed parents of their legal obligation to vaccinate their children, parents who feared vaccination avoided the registrar. Plus ça change, as they might say, in the context of today’s attempts to try to require compulsory vaccination for everybody in this country even if it means depriving them of their right to work in a care home or in the national health service.

The Bill itself contains a number of provisions about which I raised concerns with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield when he brought it forward originally. One of those is the fact that there are lots of regulation-making powers in the Bill. I said to him that I thought it was desirable that those regulations or orders should be available in draft at Committee stage so that they could be properly examined in Committee. He said that he thought that was a really good idea. However, when we got to Committee, no such draft regulations were available.

I presume, because the Government attach urgency to this Bill and more than a year has elapsed, that those regulations and draft orders are available. I look forward to the Minister confirming that they are, but if they are not, why not? When will they be available? Why can we not see them before the Bill goes into Committee? These draconian measures give great power to the Government to set out regulations and change the existing law. It seems bad practice that people should be expected to go through a detailed Bill such as this in Committee without having any inkling of what the Government are hiding away in the regulations that are held in the relevant Department and are not being openly disclosed. I fear that that total lack of transparency is almost endemic in so much of what the Government do.

My next concern about the Bill is that under clause 1(3), section 28 of the 1953 Act, in relation to the custody of registers, would be repealed. That would remove any requirement for registration officers to hold registers. As a consequence, the hard copies that so many people look at when they examine their family history would not be available and accessible. Clause 4 states that such a repeal of section 28 would not affect the requirement that every superintendent registrar should keep records that were already in existence, provided that that did not cover records issued between 2009 and the day when this Bill comes into effect.

I was assured by my right hon. Friend and the Minister, who responded to the debate on the previous Bill, which is on identical terms, that the requirement to keep existing—or what might be described as old—records would not be affected in any way. However, when one looks at clause 6 of this Bill, one sees that the Government are taking the power to make further consequential provisions on any provision of this Act, including clause 4, which is meant to be a safeguard. That power

“is exercisable by statutory instrument”.

It includes the powers

“to make different provision for different purposes”

and

“to make transitional, transitory or saving provision”,

and it

“may, in particular, be exercised by amending, repealing or revoking any provision made by or under primary legislation”—

in other words, this is a Henry VIII clause writ large—

“passed or made before, or in the same Session as, this Act.”

Under the powers in clause 6, all the assurances and guarantees on the operation of clause 4 and the safeguards under what is now section 28 of the 1953 Act are completely worthless. We, as a sovereign Parliament, do not have the power to bind our successors, but we do have the power, if we so choose, not to make it too easy for our successors to change the rules against the wishes of the people. That is why I think it is outrageous that the Government should be taking powers to change by regulation the guarantees that they say are in existence in clause 4 of this Bill. That is just the sort of issue I would like to address in Committee, and I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden will be able to give me some indication that he will accept amendments facilitating those safeguards for existing registers and records.

Another concern I have about the Bill, which my hon. Friend alluded to in introducing it, is the way regulations could be amended to change the requirement to actually sign the register. Those provisions, set out in clause 3 of the Bill, amend the 1953 Act by inserting a new section 38B after section 38A. An extraordinary lack of information is attached to what the Government intend here. It has been alluded to in the speeches of some of my hon. Friends, who seem to think it is really desirable that we should simplify what has been a solemn and historic process of registering births; I will come on later to the issue of registering deaths.

The proposed new section says:

“Where any register of births or register of deaths is required to be kept…otherwise than in hard copy form, the Minister may by regulations provide that—

(a) a person’s duty…to sign the register at any time is to have effect as a duty to comply with specified requirements at that time, and

(b) a person who complies with those requirements is to be treated…as having signed the register”.

In other words, somebody who has not actually signed the register will be treated as having signed it. Are we seriously going to legislate to create the pretence that somebody who has not signed the register has signed it and is deemed to have signed it, that, in the case of a duty to sign the register in the presence of the registrar, they are deemed to have done so in the presence of the registrar, and that accordingly in such a case the entry in the register is to be taken for the purposes of the Act as having been signed by the person when it has not been? Why are we allowing that?

What is one of the biggest safeguards of the integrity of our births register and our deaths register? It is the sanction against forgery. A sanction against forgery is nugatory if we do not require holograph signatures. My hon. Friend who so ably introduced the discussion on the Bill seems to be slightly poleaxed—I think that might be the expression—by the references to that. We have not yet had any help from the Minister on how the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act fits into this, but maybe the regulation-making powers under clause 6 of this Bill will be able to change the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act so that it applies not to actual forgery as we would know it, with people using pen and ink to change something, but to something that is deemed to be pen and ink.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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My hon. Friend is making a powerful speech. Will he tell me what happened during covid? Unfortunately, I was involved in registering a death during the covid period and it seemed to me that this was all done electronically, with no signatures required. In the case I was involved in, that did not work particularly well. Does he have any views on that?

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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When we were discussing earlier the issue of registration of deaths, I drew my hon. Friend’s attention to the fact that I have had lots of constituents—he probably has the same situation—raise with me the fact that their loved ones were given death certificates that inaccurately reflected their covid status. In a sense, the Government are hoist with their own petard on that, because it was all part of what has been described as a “scaremongering propaganda campaign” to make it seem as though more people were dying from covid than were actually doing so by saying that they may have had covid within the 28 days before their death. Extraordinarily, if one asks questions about whether people have died within 21 days or 28 days of having received a vaccine against covid, the Government get very coy about that. I do not know why that might be, because I think that the more transparent the Government are, the more they will be able to counter the vaccine hesitancy that is an increasing problem in this country as people find out that some things relating to the vaccines are being suppressed if not fully exposed to public view. I will not go on about that, but I referred in this House a few weeks ago to my Covid-19 Vaccine Damage Bill and I do so once again, without going into any more detail about it.

There is a real problem if the Government put provisions in a Bill and then are not willing to spell out all the implications. What do the explanatory notes say about clause 3? Obviously, in the absence of anything else, one looks at the explanatory notes, but they do not help, because the notes on clause 3 just repeat the content of clause 3 without explaining what the Government have in mind. Why are we in that situation? Why has no cost-benefit analysis or regulatory impact assessment been published in respect of this Bill? We know that the requirement to do this does not apply to private Members’ Bills, but if such a Bill is, in essence, a proxy for a Government Bill, is there any reason at all why those things should not be published? Again, the Government are intent on bringing this measure forward, but wish to do so without sharing with the House and the public all the implications that flow from it and the Government’s thinking about what might happen.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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I have been thinking long and hard as the debate goes on. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Bill does appear to be a Government Bill but not in Government time, so it does not have an impact assessment? For that reason alone, when we vote later, I urge hon. Members to reject it to make sure that the Government bring it forward properly for proper scrutiny in Government time.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s suggestion and it would be interesting to hear what the Minister has to say in response. [Hon. Members: “Hurry up, then!”] If the Minister wishes to intervene, I shall happily give way.

It is the Government’s prerogative to bring forward their legislation to the House. When they do so in the normal way, a Bill has a regulatory impact assessment, a cost-benefit analysis and so on. The Government should not avoid that system, and avoid the need to be transparent, by using the proxy system whereby a loyal Back Bencher takes on a Bill as a handout Bill.

My hon. Friend the Minister is a man of absolute integrity who has participated in almost as many Friday debates as I have over the years. In all those debates, I have not once found him wanting in terms of dealing straightforwardly with the subject matter under discussion. It is open to him to say that he will bring forward a regulatory impact assessment before we get to Committee so that we can examine it and we know the Bill’s full implications.

There is obviously no discipline or requirement on the Government to publish the impact assessment if they think that they have a majority of 80. I imagine that the Government will now bring forward the Bill as a Government Bill because my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) and I are expressing concerns about it and it is not making progress in the House as quickly as they might wish. If they do that, there will be a proper Second Reading, Committee and Report, which is fine.

I hope that we will then have the regulatory impact assessment in front of us and we will be able to assess what the Government have in mind and what they are hiding from us. Having had the experience in the previous Session of being told one thing in the House by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) about what would happen when we got to Committee, and those promises, or certainly expressions of intent, not materialising, I am very suspicious about the Bill.

People up and down the country will wonder why we are spending so much time discussing the issue of removing proper paper records of births. What will we do about all the people who will be adversely affected by that? I have another example of a constituent who is a South African citizen whose child was born in the United Kingdom and is therefore entitled to United Kingdom citizenship. To take his child to South Africa, he has to provide a hard-copy, holographed birth certificate. How will he do that in future if those hard copies do not exist?

That is another practical example of how the Bill’s provisions will adversely affect people of foreign citizenship who have children born in this country for whom they wish to have an old-fashioned birth certificate rather than one that has been put on a—