Mothers' Name on Marriage Certificates September 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the campaign to have mothers' names added to marriage certificates alongside fathers'.

The current system of marriage registration asks for the names and occupations of the fathers of the bride and groom, but not those of the mothers and, I have long believed that we should end that unacceptable inequality.

The previous Labour Government released a White Paper proposing wide-ranging reforms to marriage registration, including the adding of mothers' names to certificates. I believe that it is important that the reform is now implemented.

Marriage in the 21st century is a choice that people freely make to spend their lives together, with both partners equal in the relationship, and it is important that our marriage certificates reflect that. The mother's name, surname and occupation are included on civil partnership certification, and on marriage certificates in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The reform to marriage certification in England and Wales is long overdue.

I know that a petition- which received over 70,000 signatures - has helped highlight this issue. 

As you may be aware, the Marriage and Civil Partnership Registration (Mothers' Names) Bill was introduced in Parliament on 4 November 2015 by one of my Opposition colleagues. This Bill sought to amend the Marriage Act 1949 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to make provision for the recording of the name and occupation of the mother of each party to a marriage or civil partnership for registration purposes, and to require such information to be displayed on marriage certificates and civil partnership certificates in England and Wales. 

While I welcomed this Bill, unfortunately it did not receive its Second Reading in the House of Commons before the end of the 2015-2016 Parliamentary Session and it will therefore make no further progress.

However, the Government accept there is agreement that the names of both parents should be included in the marriage entry. The Home Office has, therefore, been working with interested parties to consider the most efficient and effective way to achieve this. The Government has said that a timetable will be confirmed for changes as soon as there is an opportunity to legislate on this matter. Unfortunately, the Government did not include legislation on this in the Queen's Speech on 18 May 2016.

Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views. I can assure you I will continue to press the Government to implement this reform without further delay.