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Volume 700: debated on Monday 31 March 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 26 February (WA 118), what is their social welfare policy on polygamous marriages. [HL2229]

The current rules for paying income-related social security benefits to people in a polygamous marriage have been in place since 1988 when income support was introduced. They reflect the fact that polygamy is only recognised in UK law in circumstances where the marriage ceremony has been performed in a country whose laws permit polygamy, and the parties to the marriage were domiciled there at the time of the marriage.

Contributory benefits based on spousal contributions are generally not payable where a marriage is actually polygamous.

Any member of a polygamous marriage can claim a contributory or non-contributory social security benefit in his or her own right where he or she satisfies the relevant conditions of entitlement. There is therefore no financial advantage to claiming benefit as a member of a polygamous marriage.