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New legislative agenda set out in Queen's Speech

Date:3 DEC 2008

The Queen's Speech set out the new legislative agenda today, including Bills relevant to family lawyers.

The Welfare Reform Bill, has proposed new requirements for the birth registration of children. The new legislation would require that both the mother and father of a newborn would be obliged to be entered on the birth certificate unless the registrar deemed it impossible, impractical or unreasonable.

Each year 45,000 children are registered with only one parent's name on the birth certificate. A father who is not named on a birth certificate does not have Parental Responsibility in law, and thus is not party to crucial decisions about a child's upbringing, including schooling, medical treatment and religion.

Charles Kenyon, chair of Families Need Fathers, said: "We are extremely pleased that the Government have proposed tangible steps to promote the involvement of both parents from birth. By ensuring positive action towards joint birth registration and flexible working, we will strengthen family life and promote shared parenting. Both mothers and fathers will be better enabled to carry out their parental responsibilities and children given a stronger sense of security and identity."

Chief Executive of One Parent Families|Gingerbread , Fiona Weir said: "We look forward to the detail of Government's proposals on welfare reform but measures which pressure single parents, rather than offering more support, would be the wrong way to help them into jobs."

Also announced in today's Queen's Speech was the Equality Bill. This Bill aims to make Britain fairer for everyone and will introduce protection from age discrimination.

Carolyne Willow, national co-ordinator of the Children's Rights Alliance for England , said: "Nearly every young person or parent has a story to tell of less favourable treatment on the grounds of age, be this teenagers struggling to get mental health or child protection services, or parents with babies and young children being denied access to public transport. Young people are the least likely of all age groups to have faith in the police and they fail to report even serious crimes committed against them such as sexual and physical assault. A survey carried out last year for the Government found age discrimination to be the most common form of unfair treatment experienced by children and young people. Even the United Nations has commented on Britain's intolerance of children and young people".

The Government also included a Child Poverty Bill in today's Queen's Speech.

The Bill will place a statutory duty on Government to meet the target to eliminate child poverty by 2020, and possibly introduce an annual reporting mechanism to assess progress against this goal.