Single mothers will be forced to name the father of their baby on birth certificates under new plans by the Government.
The requirement to name both the mother and the father on the official birth document is part of the Welfare Reform Bill which was passed by MPs yesterday.
Backers of the Bill hope the measure will encourage men to take responsibility for their children.
But critics say the Government is sending out mixed messages after measures contained in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act gave women who had conceived using In vitro fertilisation (IVF) the right to name anyone they chose, including same-sex partners, as the ‘second parent’ on birth certificates.
The active family campaigner and former Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, said the Government was in danger of “airbrushing” out fathers by allowing women IVF without considering the child’s need for a father.
The measures concerning IVF will come into force next month.
Ministers say the new requirement for single mothers to name the father on a child’s birth certificate will make it easier to track down child maintenance from deadbeat dads.
The measures will give fathers the right to make a formal declaration stating they are the parent if the mother leaves them off the certificate.
This would give the man official parental control and could only be overturned in the event of a court battle.
When the measures were announced last year, James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said the Government wanted to “support children whose parents’ relationship has broken down”.
He added: “We will bring forward legislation so that it becomes the default option for both parents to register the birth of their child whether they are married or not.”