My Lords, this Bill will finally end child marriage in England and Wales—and not before time. There are many people to be thanked for getting us to this point: Pauline Latham, who has campaigned tirelessly on child marriage and took this Bill through the other place; the Home Secretary and Nimco Ali, who committed to ending child marriage in the tackling violence against women and girls strategy; the Ministers and the Bill team at the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office; and Members from all sides in both Houses who supported this Bill. Finally, I thank the many campaigners—organisations and individuals—who have worked so hard to highlight the issue of child marriage and got us to where we are today: the Girls Not Brides UK coalition; IKWRO; Karma Nirvana; Forward UK; the Independent Yemen Group; Garden Court Chambers; Charlotte Proudman; Payzee Mahmod; and Farhana Raval. It has been my true honour to take this Bill—their Bill—through Parliament.
My Lords, I would like to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Sugg, on a very significant Bill. With my other hats on, as a family magistrate and youth magistrate, I do see the impact of children getting married. It is highly to be desired that this Bill be passed, and I congratulate her on the work she has done and also the many organisations that have been campaigning on this issue for many years.
My Lords, this Bill started its journey almost a year ago with its introduction in the House of Commons on 16 June 2021. It has received cross-party support and I am absolutely delighted to be here today for its Third—and final—Reading. Many people have worked hard to ensure the success of the Bill. I thank my noble friend Lady Sugg for taking it through the Lords and Pauline Latham MP for taking it through the other place. I know they both worked closely with Minister Pursglove, Minister Maclean and their teams of officials to ensure a smooth passage. Although the Bill began its journey last year, the change in law that it brings has been an aspiration for many years, especially for groups campaigning on this issue. I thank them, too, for their passion and courage in seeing this come to pass.
Today we have a chance to make history and see child marriage finally come to an end in England and Wales. We have the opportunity further to safeguard the futures of our children and set an example that we hope will be followed by the rest of the world. Its anticipated incoming is important and far-reaching; I confirm with great pleasure that the Government are supporting it and I commend it to the House