GRO to become part of UK IPS in 2008
The General Register Office (GRO) in England and Wales will become part of the UK’s Identity and Passport Service from 1 April 2008, following a move to make the Office of National Statistics (ONS) independent of ministers.
The GRO, which is currently part of the ONS, is responsible for overseeing the recording of births, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths in England and Wales. It already provides the IPS with information to prevent fraud related to passport applications. And work is also being carried out to provide the IPS with online access to GRO birth, marriage and death registers (and their equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland).
The GRO’s move to the IPS follows an announcement by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, that the production of official statistics was to be made independent of ministers, resulting in a change of status for ONS from April 2008. Because the GRO’s functions cover policy and operational issues, which involve ministers, it will cease to be part of ONS.
James Hall, chief executive of the IPS says “The GRO joining the IPS is welcome news. Working as one organisation will allow us to explore the possibility of integrating passport, identity card and life event registration processes. This would reduce red tape and make life easier for people, as well as strengthen the integrity of our systems.”
GRO Scotland and GRO Northern Ireland will remain the responsibility of their devolved administrations.