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Islam: Marriage

Volume 483: debated on Tuesday 18 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many mosques (a) were registered and (b) had applied for registration to perform joint civil and religious marriage ceremonies at the most recent date for which figures are available. (234592)

The Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 provides for places of religious worship, except those of the established Church, to be certified to the Registrar General. A building has to be certified as a place of religious worship before it can be registered for marriages by the Registrar General under the Marriage Act 1949.

The total number of buildings currently recorded by the Registrar General as certified places of meeting for religious worship by those professing the Muslim religion in England and Wales is 809. Of those 159 buildings are registered for marriage.

The Marriage Act draws a distinction between civil and religious marriages. Where a marriage is conducted in a registered building it may be solemnized according to such form and ceremony as the persons contracting the marriage see fit to adopt. Civil marriages may only take place in a register office or other building approved for that purpose by the local authority in which it is situated.

The register of buildings registered for marriage is not held in a format that can provide the total number of applications since the 1855 Act was implemented.