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Marriage Registration

Volume 635: debated on Thursday 25 January 2018

2. To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Church of England has made of the potential merits of proposals in the Registration of Marriage Bill to enable a mother’s details to be recorded on marriage certificates. (903524)

I must declare an interest because I am promoting the Bill that would enable a mother’s details to be recorded in the registration of marriages, and I will introduce it for the second time on 23 February. More importantly, the Bishop of St Albans will introduce an identical Bill in the House of Lords tomorrow. The House could not have a stronger demonstration of how much the Church of England would welcome this change.

I congratulate the right hon. Lady on promoting the Bill. One way that women have been written out of history is by not having what work they have done in the past recorded on official documents such as a marriage certificates. I very much support what she is doing, but can anything else be done to promote the Bill and get Government support?

We are doing our very best. On 31 December, I was encouraged to read in The Sunday Times that a Home Office spokesman had told that newspaper that the Bill had been “signed off”. I hope that might mean that the Government will give the Bill time when it comes here from the Lords, as I am sure it will. We all want this to happen. It would put an end to an anachronism, and we would all cheer that. Many mothers who have weddings in the offing would like this change to happen in time for their children’s marriages.

In a society where marriage break-ups and relationship breakdowns happen daily, we welcome the right hon. Lady’s assertion that it is now time to include the mother’s details on the marriage certificate. Will she outline a legal timescale for that, and say when it might be completed?

As things stand, an identical private Member’s Bill is being introduced in both Houses—that is a pincer movement to try to make this happen. This is only the fifth time that the House has attempted to get this important change to a law that dates back to 1853. If the Government were to give the Bill time in the House, that would speed up that change to the law. I hope that the statement from the Home Office on new year’s eve has some substance behind it, and that the Bill will soon be given time in the House.