A new Book of Scottish Connections will allow people across the world to celebrate their Scottish roots, it was announced today.
It offers a massive opportunity for the millions of people in all corners of the globe to have recorded in Scotland a birth, death or marriage that takes place outwith Scotland. The book will be held by the General Register Office for Scotland in Edinburgh.
Deputy Public Service Reform Minster Tavish Scott welcomed proposals published today to make registering births, deaths and marriages in Scotland easier and more accessible.
The draft Registration Services (Scotland) Bill consultation paper was published by Registrar General for Scotland Duncan Macniven as the registration system in Scotland celebrates its 150th birthday. It sets out the necessary draft legislation and proposes a number of changes to the civil registration system. Mr Macniven said:
"The changes we are proposing to the registration of births, deaths and marriages are ground breaking modernisation of a much-loved system, and will make it more flexible and more accessible for people across Scotland."
Among other changes, the draft legislation would:
* set up a Book of Scottish Connections in which people throughout the world with a Scottish connection could arrange for a birth, death or marriage to be recorded.
* allow births and deaths to be registered anywhere in Scotland, not just at the place at which the event occurred.
* increase choice for couples who wish to marry at sea, by establishing a new registration district comprising all territorial waters around Scotland.
* advertise forthcoming marriages on an all-Scotland website as well as local registration office notice boards.
The draft Bill also proposes on-line registration. Many people welcome the opportunity for a face-to-face discussion with their registrar about a birth or a death, and that option will continue - but electronic registration would give people the choice of calling in person at the registration office or registering the event through their home computer.
That new option would only be made available once security needs were satisfied to avoid fraudulent registrations.
Mr Scott added:
"This Bill has great potential especially the Book of Scottish Connections which will allow anyone with Scottish roots to register an event which happens overseas. This will be an exciting opportunity for ex-pats, those with Scottish connections and others wanting to keep family records in Scotland up-to-date.
"The present system of registration in Scotland is exactly 150 years old.
This draft Bill makes sure that it still fits the needs of tomorrow's Scotland. "
The consultation on the draft legislation will close at 31 March 2005.
The draft Bill is based on proposals in the October 2000 consultation paper "Civil Registration in the 21st Century". Responses to that consultation paper were published by the Registrar General in November 2001 and can be found in the news release "Civil registration shake-up" on this website.
Some of the proposals have already been taken forward within the present legislative framework or through secondary legislation. But the majority require primary legislation in the Scottish Parliament.
Civil registration of births, deaths and marriages was introduced in Scotland exactly 150 years ago, on 1 January 1855. The framework for the registration of births, deaths and marriages in Scotland is currently set by the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965. Arrangements for marriage preliminaries and the solemnisation of civil marriages are governed by the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 as amended by the Marriage (Scotland) Act 2002.
The registration service in Scotland is a partnership between the General Register Office for Scotland and the 32 local authorities. At present there are 231 registration districts in Scotland.