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Islam: Marriage

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many mosques in Keighley constituency are registered to conduct civil marriage ceremonies; (242867)

(2) what estimate she has made of the number of weddings which took place in unregistered mosques in Keighley constituency which were not subsequently followed up by a civil ceremony in the last 12 months; and how many such weddings took place which were followed by a civil ceremony.

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 Marriage Act draws a distinction between civil and religious marriages. Where a marriage is conducted in a registered building it may be solemnised 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 the solemnisation of marriage is not held in a format that can be readily broken down into individual parliamentary constituency. The closest geographical area for registration purposes which includes Keighley is the registration district of Bradford and Keighley. There are 13 buildings that are registered for the solemnisation of marriage by those professing the Muslim religion in this registration district.

Information on the numbers of marriages in England and Wales is published in the annual reference volume Series FM2 Marriage, Divorce and Adoption Statistics, available from the House of Commons Library. However, figures for the number of marriages by building are not readily available. There are no records held of any ceremonies that are conducted by those professing the Muslim religion that are outside of the provisions in the Marriage Act 1949.