I will continue where I left off. I congratulate the Minister on many aspects of the Bill. In the few minutes at my disposal I will talk about measures I hope will be taken under the Bill as a matter of public importance. I cannot understand why, for instance, the births, marriages and deaths offices in the various health board areas cannot be more flexible in their hours. This has been mentioned several times today. Given the implementation of flexitime, why can they not be open for a few hours on Saturday, when a great number of families do the weekend shopping? It is a time when they often want to get birth certificates for students and so on. There is no reason a simple matter like that could not be put right. Events are now happening at weekends, which were never foreseen, because of changes in society, and I hope something can be done in this regard.
Mention was made by a number of my colleagues of the content of the information that will be on the death certificate. I hope whatever relevant information that can be put on the certificate will be provided for. There is no real problem involved. In the area of agriculture it was possible to put the world of documentation on what is called the "passport" or identity card which applies to seven million cattle. There is no technological reason all the information that is deemed to be required should not be put on the death certificate. I have not the time to go through what should be put on it, but many of the contributions on both sides of the House today indicate that there is now an opportunity to do this because the technology is there.
I will comment on something that was touched on by Deputy Lenihan. It has to do with the question of personal identity cards. There is no valid reason a person should not have his or her own identity card. I cannot imagine why the liberal wing in this country could object to it, we have done much in so many other respects.
In the realm of social welfare in which the Minister operates, the PPS number is a common denominator for many people. I cannot understand why a step further cannot be taken so that people may have identity cards. Down through the years I had much contact with the General Registrar's Office in Lombard Street. I pay a compliment to the staff there for what was for my constituents important business. It might not have been for the public, but for the people concerned who could not prove their date of birth or who had a problem with a marriage certificate or death certificate, the staff went to great lengths. That was nothing compared to the problems we had with people who had emigrated to England, Scotland, Wales etc. in the early 1950s. That is somewhat like the debate we had earlier. In so far as they could do their job, I found those people to be excellent.
One of the reasons many Deputies spoke on this Bill today is not that it is controversial — I assume there will not be three lines about it in any newspaper tomorrow and it has not been covered by the media at any time today — but because it will affect every man, woman and child in the country at some stage in their lives.
For some strange reason this legislation is not considered news. Nonetheless, it is important. We now have an ideal opportunity to provide for the inclusion of all relevant information. There is no end to what technology can do.
Certain aspects of technology are worrying to the older generation but there is nothing the Minister or I can do except to ensure it is used in a humane manner. A case in point is the payment of social welfare benefits direct to the bank. Elderly people want to retain their pension books. While many people would prefer if that system was changed, it is vitally important it remains the same.