One step closer to cheaper BMD information?

By Editor, 12 February 2015 - 3:20pm

Deputy editor Claire Vaughan is excited about the possibility of quicker and cheaper BMD information for England and Wales

Claire Vaughan is deputy editor at Who Do You Think You Are? MagazineThursday 12 February 2015
Claire Vaughan, deputy editor
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This time last week, there was a seismic shift in the government’s stance on access to birth, marriage and death information.

On 5 February, The House of Lords passed the Deregulation Bill, which will allow the Registrar General to provide copies of entries of births, marriages and deaths without the need to purchase certificates. As the news broke, Else Churchill of the Society of Genealogists told us: “Today has been a pretty good day for the genealogy community.”

So what does this mean for family historians? Well, when researching English and Welsh ancestors we’ll hopefully be able to get quicker (possibly instant) access to vital information about them, thus speeding up our investigations (something we’ve been able to do for some time now when researching our Scottish ancestors, via the ScotlandsPeople website).

People across the genealogy sector are waiting expectantly to see what will happen next. Guy Etchells of Anguline Research Archives explained: “This is only the first stage in the process but is a very welcome first stage.”

Here at Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, we’ve been watching the unfolding debate for some time now. In fact, I remember when I first joined the team over seven years ago (for issue 2), we were all excitedly waiting for the GRO digitisation projects DOVE, Eagle and Magpie to take flight. Sadly they didn’t even make it off the ground. Costs escalated and they had to be abandoned. Guy firmly believes that “in the not too distant future, say in 10 to 20 years, the old birds will stagger into the air.”

One issue for family historians is the cost. Will new ways of accessing historic BMD information reduce the price? Some of our Australian readers report that the digitisation of BMD records over there didn’t see any reduction in the cost of accessing information. Remember the eye-watering hike in the price of ordering certificates from £7 to £9.25 in 2010? Perhaps someone should remind the GRO that as a result of the increase fewer certificates were ordered, so if they were aiming to make more money, it didn’t pay off!

The most important thing is that the GRO listens to the family history community. The passing of the legislation is just the first step; what we all want are tangible, affordable results – and soon.

What do you think? Visit our Facebook page, tweet or comment below to join the debate.

 

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