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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 7 Apr 1938

Vol. 70 No. 13

Public Business. - Vote No. 42—General Register Office.

I move:

Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £8,475 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfaidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1939, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig Ard-Chlárathóra na mBeireataisí, etc. (7 agus 8 Vict., c. 81, a. 54; 26 Vict., c. 11, a. 9 agus c. 27; 26 agus 27 Vict., c. 52, a. 11, agus c. 90, a. 20; 42 agus 43 Vict., c. 70; agus 43 agus 44 Vict., e. 13).

That a sum not exceeding £8,475 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1939, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Registrar-General of Births, etc. (7 and 8 Vict., c. 81, s. 54; 26 Vict., c. 11, s. 9, and c. 27; 26 and 27 Vict., c. 52, s. 11, and c. 90, s. 20; 42 and 43 Vict., c. 70; and 43 and 44 Vict., c. 13).

There is one matter on this Vote which seems to me to be of great importance, especially to people with families. I refer to the matter of getting birth certificates. The ordinary charge for a certificate for a boy or girl going from the primary to the secondary school is 3/7, but it is sometimes more convenient—in some cases it is absolutely necessary—to get a copy of the birth certificate from the Registrar-General's office. If a parent sends on 3/7 to the Registrar-General's office for the certificate, he gets a notification to send on another 1/6 before the certificate is issued. That means that the birth certificate in these cases costs the parent 5/1. The charge seems to me to be too high, and the matter is one that, I think, the Minister himself ought to look into. This charge would amount to a fairly large sum in a case where you had four, five, or, perhaps, six children passing from the primary to the secondary school. It would be a very serious matter for a poor man earning, perhaps, 30/- per week, or the man in receipt of the fabulous wage of 22/- per week at Rhynana. I know of cases in which the usual application was sent on to the Registrar-General's office. In these cases there was no need for a search at all. The month was given, the date was given, and the year was given. All the particulars necessary were given, and yet application was made for 5/1 in respect of each birth certificate issued. The charge is, as I have said, too high, and I would ask the Minister to look into it.

Some time ago I addressed a question to the Minister on the subject of the incomplete registration of names. The Minister undertook to look into the matter if the particulars were supplied to him. I subsequently supplied the particulars of one case to him, but a number of cases have been brought to my notice in connection with registration of births carried out by certain maternity hospitals in Dublin. The registration is, I think, effected by a nurse, and in some cases the Christian name or names may be given but they are not entered in the register. Under the present regulations, a Christian name or names when omitted at the original registration, can be inserted within a period of 12 months, but where births are registered by hospitals the parents do not, as a rule, become aware that the Christian names have been omitted until 14 or 15 years afterwards, when they have to get certificates for the purpose of school examinations. They are then put to considerable difficulty and have to get baptismal certificates to satisfy the educational authorities as to the identity of the children. There does not seem to be any good reason why, when Christian names are omitted at the time of original registration, it should not be possible to insert them at any subsequent time. I do not see why there should be any limit of 12 months, and I ask the Minister seriously to consider the question of allowing imperfect registrations to be remedied at any subsequent time.

As regards the complaint by Deputy Hogan, I am not aware that there has been any recent change in the price charged for certificates.

There has.

That is not my information.

I got two certificates. I paid 3/7 for one and the Department tell me that I owe 1/6 for another. I have not paid them and will not pay them.

The circumstances may be different. Where the Registrar-General's staff make a search, as it is officially called, they charge a fee of 2/6 for it. Where the search is made by an individual outside the office the charge is at the lower rate. One shilling of that charge goes to the local registrar. I am informed that there has been no change in the charges made in recent years.

The Minister has not inquired recently.

I inquired as a result of the correspondence with Deputy Hogan.

I remember distinctly getting a certificate for 3/7.

I sent in 3/7 since, and I have been asked for 1/6 more. What is that for?

The search in that case was made by the office.

What search?

A search is necessary in respect of every application for a certificate.

If the particulars are given, why the search?

Even if the names and dates be given, a search has to be made, and, where it is made by the office, there is a charge of 1/6. Individuals come in every day and make searches on their own account. They get the certificates at the lower rate.

Will the Minister see that this 1/6 is paid?

I think it is already paid.

It is not.

With regard to the point raised by Deputy Heron, if incomplete registrations were left open to rectification at any time, abuses might creep in. We have to be careful now with regard to registrations, because the certificate of the Registrar-General is relied upon in so many cases. Old age pensions have been obtained by people on certificates that were not the true certificates. A case came to my knowledge in which a child was given a certain Christian name. That child died after a few years, and a second child, born later, was given the same name. That person got the old age pension on the certificate of the first child. That kind of thing happens, and the office has to be careful. I do not think that it would be wise to permit rectification of incomplete or imperfect registrations at any time during the lifetime of the individual. Another case came to my knowledge in which a distinguished member of the Dáil has two birthdays. His parents did not have the birth registered at the time, and his official birthday is about six months later than his real birthday.

He will not like that if he is looking for the old age pension.

The point I raised was not that of the change of an entry. My point had to do with cases where there is no entry, and where the person concerned has no registered Christian name or names. In circumstances like those, it should be possible, where the omission was due to error, to have matters put right. I do not suggest that the alteration of entries should be made easy, but that there should be some facility for filling in particulars that were omitted in the first instance. I do not say that that should be possible throughout the whole of a person's lifetime, but I do suggest that the parents concerned should be notified of the incomplete registration in time to have it rectified. Quite a large number of citizens of Dublin have only their surnames registered. The hospital authorities did not trouble to give the Christian name. Some provision should be made to meet that difficulty, because it is causing a great deal of trouble to parents when children come of age to sit for examinations.

Vote put and agreed to.