I commend the new clause. Its purpose is to ensure that parents who are under the age of 16 years will have the necessary legal capacity to fulfil their duty under the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965 to register their child. The clause is required because doubts have arisen whether after the Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991 a person under the age of 16, who is the father or mother of a child, has the legal capacity to register the birth of the child or to have his or her name entered in the register of births. It is clearly desirable that such doubts should be removed as soon as possible so as to ensure that accurate details about the birth of children can be entered in the register of births, which may have been given by persons under 16 since the 1991 Act.
The clause also has the effect of validating any entry in the register of births that may have been made by a person under 16 years of age since the 1991 Act. We do not wish to encourage parenthood in persons so young but we recognise that it happens. The aim behind the clause is to avoid compounding the difficulties by not allowing such young parents to meet their duty under the 1965 Act.
The clause meets the concerns of the registrar general, who is anxious to ensure that the register of births is as complete and accurate as possible. These provisions will apply retrospectively so as to make lawful all registrations by under-aged parents for the avoidance of doubt.
Amendments Nos. 141 to 143 make it clear that an application for the re-registration of a birth, or for a change of name, may be made by a person aged under 16 years. The amendments make it clear that such applications since the 1991 Act are valid.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.