Church of England marriages increased by 4% in 2010. The increase coincided with a national project by the Church to promote and encourage church weddings and communicate new rights to be married in church where people and their families have a qualifying connection.
I am delighted to hear about the increase in 2010, but I wonder whether my hon. Friend is aware that the number of marriages in 2009 was the lowest since records began in 1900. In fact, the number of weddings has decreased in England and Wales from 426,000 in 1972 to 232,000. Some clergy do terribly well in increasing the number of marriages, only to see it fall back under their successors. Does my hon. Friend think that bishops could take a slightly closer interest in that, to try to encourage the good work done by some clergy?
We should all take an interest in that. Everyone in the Church of England wants to attract more weddings in church. Weddings are an important part of Church life. We want to build awareness of the Church’s enthusiasm for marriage. Every member of the clergy would want to care for couples and support them once they have been married in church, and hopefully those couples will want to stick with the church afterwards.