Posted by: Nick Gulliford, Affinities/FOCCUS
Public Sector Information Holder: GRO and local authorities
Information Asset: Registration districts and register offices
Paul Boateng, then Shadow Minister in the Commons for the Lord Chancellor's Department, began the argument for the signposting of couples by Registrars towards marriage preparation on 24th April 1996 during a debate on the Family Law Bill:
"At the moment, there is no preparation at all for civil marriage, and there is absolutely nothing on the face of the Bill to give any hope whatsoever that that will occur or is envisaged... The Government also have to come forward with proposals in relation to preparation for marriage and with proposals that recognise the need for concerted and focused action to support the institution of marriage and the family.
Marriage preparation and relationship education were outlined in the White Paper "Delivering Vital Change" and in the House of Commons debate when the Labour Treasury Minister, Ruth Kelly, said:
"In our White Paper, [Delivering Vital Change] the Government explained that the registration service is ideally placed to act as a focal point for information about services associated with births, deaths and marriages, such as ........ marriage preparation ...... I believe that there is a genuine opportunity for local authorities to develop those services innovatively to meet the needs of their communities, now and in future. A wider role for the registration service will improve on the current piecemeal approach by local authorities and will be underpinned by the proposed national standards."
My ideal solution
A database of Registration Districts and Register Offices and the Local Authorities with their Registration Services Managers, including details showing which Register Office is connected with which Local Authority.
What I would do
Set up a search facility so that members of the National Couple Support Network and others concerned with relationship education can approach Registrars and Local Authorities about providing services along the lines envisaged above by Paul Boateng and Ruth Kelly.