Posted by Simon Bassett, Partner
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MPs clash over best way to update marriage certificates
The debate over making changes to “outdated” marriage certificates has been rekindled.
Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to update the paperwork, following growing controversy that the name of the bride and grooms’ mothers were not recorded.
Over 12 months on, Mr Cameron has been criticised for not making any progress on the issue, despite his own admission that it was inappropriate to continue with a format of certificate which had not been updated since the Victorian era.
Now a backbench MP, Christina Rees, has put forward legislation to address what she has described as “a great injustice.”
“My father died when I was a young teenager and my mother brought me up. The father of my husband-to-be had also died many years before,” she said.
“The two mothers came to the ceremony but their names could not be on the certificate.”
Home Office Minister Richard Harrington was forced to deny that the Government was intent on kicking the issue into the long grass after he signalled that ministers would not support Ms Rees’ bill.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Harrington said he is not convinced that Ms Rees’ plans were the best way to address the issue.
While he agreed the current situation was “absurd” he suggested that a solution might be to take forward some of the ideas laid out by the Labour MP and combine them with separate proposals outlined by another backbencher Caroline Spelman.
Mr Harrington said: “What we need – I assure [Ms Rees] that this will be progressed quickly – is a vehicle that will transform the whole system of marriage registration for the digital age, so that all the points and everything that is changing in society can be taken into consideration.
“I am not against any of the sentiments or saying that anything within the Bill is wrong, but we need a comprehensive solution. I assure her that this is not Government waffle. We have to deal with the matter for once and for all, quickly and properly.”
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