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Government supports move for digital register of marriages



Parliamentary bill includes provision for mothers’ names to be included on certificate

A single digital register of marriages is to be set up under a private member’s bill that has won backing from Government ministers.

The Home Office has announced it is throwing its weight behind the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill, put forward by Tim Loughton, a Conservative backbencher.

It will also involve a change to place mothers’ names on the certificates along with those of the bride and grooms’ fathers.

At present, the details of marriages are stored in 84,000 hard copy registers. Ministers said the modernisation could deliver savings of £33.8 million over 10 years.

Moving from paper to an electronic register would also make the system “more secure, more efficient and far simpler to administer and amend, if necessary, in the future”.

The move on mothers’ names will bring England and Wales into line with Scotland and Northern Ireland, where couples – including those entering a civil partnership – are already asked to give the names of both parents on marriage documentation.

There has been a growing campaign by MPs of all parties to update a process – dating back to 1837 – under which only the names of fathers are placed on the documents.


Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The current legislation which only allows for fathers’ names is completely outdated and does not reflect modern Britain. 

“There are around 250,000 marriages every year. It is about time that there are equal rights and recognition when it comes to registering a child’s marriage.”

MPs from all parties have spent several years attempting to bring about a change in the law to allow both parents to have their names and occupations recorded.

Dame Caroline Spelman, a former Conservative Cabinet minister, and the Rev Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, who sits in the House of Lords, had earlier introduced identical bills in both chambers to implement the reform.

Their campaign received the backing of former Prime Minister David Cameron, who pledged to address this “inequality in marriage” - but he was gone from Downing Street before any action could be taken.

Image by Jan Kalab, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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