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Clause 4

Volume 929: debated on Monday 28 March 1977

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The Marriage Notice Book

10.28 p.m.

I beg to move Amendment No. 1, in page 3, line 33, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

'(2) The district registrar shall, in relation to each intended marriage in respect of which he has received a marriage notice or an approved certificate, and as soon as practicable after such receipt, make an entry giving the names of the parties to, and the proposed date of, that marriage in a list which he shall display in a conspicuous place at the registration office; and such entry shall remain so displayed until the said date has elapsed.
(3) Any person claiming that he may have reason to submit an objection to an intended marriage, or to the issue of a certificate under section 7 of this Act to a party to such marriage, may, free of charge and at any time when the registration office is open for public business, inspect any entry relating to the marriage in the marriage notice book.'.
In Committee the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) asked on behalf of the Association of Registrars for some means to be found to prevent salesmen and other commercial interests obtaining from the marriage notice book the names and addresses of those about to marry. His argument was persuasive, but it would not be right to charge for inspection of the book. Any reasonable fee would not deter these people and we should not charge a fee to someone who genuinely thinks that he may know of a legal impediment.

The amendment has been drafted with this in mind. I am told that it is acceptable to the Association of Registrars. It will oblige registrars to put on public display a list of the names of couples intending to marry and the proposed date of marriage. It will not contain addresses—which is what salesmen are primarily after—but if a potential objector, on seeing the list, thinks that he may have reason to submit an objection to one of the intended marriages, he will be able to consult, free of charge, the more informative entry in the marriage notice book, which will include the addresses of the couple. This system will achieve the double purpose of providing more general publicity for all intended marriages while also confining inspection of the marriage notice book to those who have an interest in a particular entry.

I welcome the solution that the Minister has found to two problems. The first was the fact that the marriage notice book appeared as if it would make the publication of intended marriages more secret. Publishing the names without the addresses gets over the criticism that we had in Committee, and I welcome it. Secondly, it overcomes the difficulty that the registrars felt, that anybody might come in and take up their time. I think that this is an ingenious solution, and the House should welcome it.

Amendment agreed to.