House of Commons Library

Mothers' details on marriage certificates

Published Wednesday, October 24, 2018

This Commons Library briefing paper provides information about calls for details of both parents of the parties to a marriage to be included in marriage registration (and not just fathers' details, as at present)

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This briefing paper deals with the law in England and Wales. Different legislation and marriage registration systems apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Current position

In England and Wales, the law requires all marriages to be registered once they have taken place. The system for registering marriages is currently paper-based. The prescribed particulars to be registered for a marriage include details of the father but not the mother of the bride and groom.

There have been calls from both within and outside of Parliament for mothers’ details to be included in marriage registration.

Labour Government proposals for change – not implemented

The Labour Government proposed wide-ranging reform of civil registration. This included a proposal to include on the marriage certificate the names and occupations of the father and mother of the bride and groom. However, these proposals were not implemented.

Government willing to address issue

On 18 August 2014, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced the Government’s intention to address this issue.

On 8 December 2015, there was a Westminster Hall debate on marriage registration certificates. Richard Harrington, who was then a junior Home Office Minister, confirmed the Government’s willingness to remedy the issue. He spoke of the need for a comprehensive solution and not a simple amendment of the current marriage register.

The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill 2017-19

The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill (the Bill) is a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Tim Loughton (Conservative), who came fifth in the ballot for Commons Private Members’ Bills for the 2017-19 Parliamentary session. Explanatory Notes were prepared by the Home Office with the consent of Tim Loughton. Information about the Bill is provided on the Bill page on the Parliament website.

The Bill, as amended in Public Bill Committee, has Government and Opposition support.

Report stage in the Commons is scheduled for 26 October 2018.

The Bill would enable the Secretary of State to make regulations with the intention of changing the way in which marriages are registered in England and Wales. There would be a move from a paper-based system to registration in an electronic register. The Bill would enable changes to be made to the register entry and would facilitate inclusion of mothers’ details (among other things). The Government considers that this would create a more secure system for the maintenance of marriage records.

This Bill would also deal a number of other matters. Another Library briefing paper provides further information: Commons Library analysis: Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill (CPB 08217, 24 October 2018).

Other Private Members’ Bills

Two other Private Members Bills, in similar terms, have also been introduced in the current Parliamentary session, one in the House of Commons and one in the House of Lords. They would also enable the move to an electronic register and would facilitate the inclusion of mothers’ details on marriage certificates.


Commons Briefing papers CBP-7516

Author: Catherine Fairbairn

Topics: Marriage, Registration of births, deaths and marriages

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