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Marriages: Non-religious Belief Organisations

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 18 December 2014

I am today publishing the Government’s response to the consultation on “Marriages by non- religious belief organisations” launched on 26 June 2014 and concluded on 18 September. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The consultation sought views on whether the law should be changed to permit non-religious belief organisations to solemnise marriages in England and Wales. I am grateful to all who responded to the consultation.

The Government have considered the full range of responses and the range of issues associated with any options for change and which have implications for marriage solemnisation more broadly. It is the Government’s view that the legal and technical requirements of marriage ceremonies and registration in England and Wales need to be reviewed and potentially reformed before or at the same time as making a decision on whether to take forward the specific proposal to permit legally valid marriage ceremonies for those with non-religious beliefs.

It is important that we resolve these issues in as timely a manner as possible. The Government will ask the Law Commission if it will undertake a broader independent review of the law concerning marriage ceremonies, requesting that the Commission begins work as soon as possible. The Government will start to work with the Commission in January to consider the scope of such a review.