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Anguline Research Archives.
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Open Historic Register now.

The comments from Master Arthur Francis Ridsdale,
“The closing of the registers is calculated to defeat the cause of justice.”

Sir Frederick Kenyon
“What one feels is that very often great injustice might be caused simply from parties not being able to get information which is in the registers and could be found if the solicitor could see them”.

The Royal Commission
“We see no good reason in principle for forbidding searchers to take copies at their own risk. The existing restriction rests merely of financial grounds and we think that it should be removed.”

The above comments show there is a clear Public Interest in opening the registers to the public.

The legislation demands that current registers are available for the public to search or in the words of the Births and Deaths Act 1953

“32. Every registrar shall at any time when his office is required to be open for the transaction of public business allow searches to be made in any register of births or register of deaths in his keeping”

It is unthinkable that the public have the right to search registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages that occurred last week but are denied access to registers compiled 170 years ago.
If the reason as suggested by the Royal Commission "rests merely on financial grounds" then that is immoral.
The government collect the information and archive the information for the benefit of the public, not to make money from the public.

There is no legislation that prohibits the public from taking copies from the registers at their own risk, rather case law allows that they may.

There is authority for saying that the right to search includes the right to make extracts as distinct from the right to obtain certified copies on payment of the appropriate fee:
see Steele v Williams (1853) 8 Exch 625..."

The legislation is already in place (Registration Services Act, 1953) to allow the historic registers held by either the GRO or indeed by superintendent registrars to be held at the county records offices rather than the superintendent registrars.
If however the Registrar General * decides further legislation is required she could with the approval of The Minister make the regulation by Statutory Instrument
Registration Services Act, 1953 section 20 (a).

* (Under the Statistics and Registration Services Act, 2007 for Registrar General read The Board.)

The wide ranging powers given to The Board include:

Statistics and Registration Services Act, 2007 Section 26 Ancillary powers
(2) Anything required to be published by the Board may be published by it in such manner as it thinks fit.

Section 28 Efficiency etc

(1)The Board must exercise its functions efficiently and cost-effectively.

(2)The Board must seek to minimise the burdens (including financial burdens) it imposes on other persons.

I would suggest opening the historic registers by allowing them to be available at the record offices would greatly minimise the burdens (including financial burdens) it imposes on other persons.
I would therefore suggest The Board is duty bound to consider such a move.

It should also be noted that the GRO is no longer open to the public to search the indexes as required by law.

The indexes provided by third parties from incomplete and inaccurate information supplied by the GRO are not covered by any law.

They therefore cannot be used as a defence to the challenge the GRO are not complying with the legislation governing it.