A private member’s bill aims to modernise marriage registration in England and Wales for the first time since 1837.
Tory MP Tim Loughton’s Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill will mean mothers’ names are included on the marriage certificate, instead of just the fathers’ names.
The Home Office has said it will support the bill. Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said the move would modernise an “outdated system”. For years, MPs from all parties have tried to change the law so that both parents’ names and occupations are recorded.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron had pledged to address the inequality; however, he left Downing Street before he could implement any change. In the rest of the UK, couples must give the names of both parents on the marriage certificate and this applies to anyone entering a civil partnership.
The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill will also upgrade the registration process to an electronic system. Marriage entries are currently stored in 84,000 hard-copy marriage registers. The Home Office estimates a single electronic register could save some £33.8 million over ten years.
Amber Rudd said: “A marriage is not just a major event for the couple but also in the life of any parent – and it is only right that all parents have the opportunity to have their names included on marriage certificates.
“The current legislation which only allows for fathers’ names is completely outdated and does not reflect modern Britain.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.”
Mr Loughton’s bill also calls for heterosexual couples to be allowed to enter civil partnerships. However, the MP told the Press Association that “the cautious Home Office officials have been raising questions as to why you can’t do it rather than finding ways of making this happen”.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said they wanted to keep the issue under review and evaluate its demand.
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“In our line of work, checking birth, marriage and death certificates is necessary to validate identities. Extra information provides welcome clues when it comes to piecing together a family tree.”
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