Registration of Births by Persons Who are Themselves Children

Orders of the Day — Children (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 1st May 1995.

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  1. '.—(1) In paragraph (a) of section 14(1) of the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965 (duty of father and mother to give information of particulars of birth), for the words "father or mother of the child" substitute "child's father or mother (whether or not they have attained the age of sixteen years)".
  2. (2) Where, at any time after the coming into force of the Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991 but before the coming into force of subsection (1) above, a person mentioned in the said paragraph (a) who had not at that time attained the age of sixteen years purported to fulfill the duty mentioned in the said section 14(1), he shall be presumed to have had legal capacity to fulfill that duty.
  3. (3) In section 18 of the said Act of 1965 (registration of birth of child born out of wedlock), after subsection (2) add—
  4. "(3) A person under the age of sixteen years has legal capacity—
    1. (a) to make a request, declaration or statutory declaration under subsection (1), or (2)(b) above if, in the opinion of the registrar; or
    2. (b) to make an application under subsection (2)(c) above if, in the opinion of the sheriff,
    that person understands the nature of the request or, as the case may be, of the declaration, statutory declaration or application; and without prejudice to the generality of this subsection a person twelve years of age or more shall be presumed to be of sufficient age and maturity to have such understanding.".
  5. (4) Where, at any time after the coming into force of the Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991 but before the coming into force of subsection (3) above, a person who had not at that time attained the age of sixteen years made a request, declaration, statutory declaration or application mentioned in subsection (1), or (2) of the said section 18 in relation to a child in respect of whose birth an entry was consequently made under the said subsection (1) in a register of births, or as the case may be under the said subsection (2) in the Register of Corrections etc., the person shall be presumed to have had legal capacity to make the request, declaration, statutory declaration, or application in question.'.—[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]
Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 141 to 143.

Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West

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.