Babies whose mothers refuse to pay their bills at public hospitals may not get birth certificates, according to a senior health official. Paul Cheng Ching-wan, an acting principal assistant secretary for health, welfare and food, said this was among the measures being considered to recover medical fees left unpaid by mainland mothers who gave birth in Hong Kong public hospitals. Speaking on an RTHK programme yesterday, Mr Cheng said: 'The record of the newborns has to remain with our registry under the Births and Deaths Registration Ordinance. 'It is necessary for the government to keep an accurate record of that information, or it would only create more hurdles for us in handling matters relating to the identity of the newborns in future. However, it is another issue whether we would issue birth certificates to the babies. 'Under law, newborns have a legal right to obtain a copy of the birth certificate. So apparently we have to change the law if we decide to carry out the policy,' Mr Cheng said. Babies born in Hong Kong would enjoy the same rights as other people, even without birth certificates, he said. But they may encounter a lot of inconvenience in future, such as when applying for travel documents or to schools. Under the law, hospitals must report newborns to the Immigration Department within 42 days of their birth. Legislator Kwok Ka-ki, vice-chairman of the health services panel, supported the plan. But Lau Kong-wah, a member of Legco's security panel, refused to say if he would support the plan until the government provided more details, although he agreed that it sounded effective. Democratic legislator Andrew Cheng Kar-foo, chairman of the health services panel, warned that the move might violate human rights.