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Marriage Registers Bill (2017)

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Marriage Registers Bill (2017)

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:11 pm

p12 of the April WDTYA? Magazine refers to the Registration of Marriage Bill currently going through the Parliamentary mill. (See [url]bit.ly/MarriageBill[/url] ).

I just spent some time trying to read up on the situation and I have to say that I have concerns. To summarise (with no guarantee that I'm totally right) the impetus for the bill comes from (a) the desire to see mother's names on English & Welsh marriage certificates and (b) the desire to introduce a computerised system. Ironically the bill, as constituted, does not specifically introduce mother's names but enables the Minister (?) to easily do so and, by moving to an electronic system, enables introduction of such new items to be made easier without reprinting lots of blank registers.

So far as I can see, the situation in England & Wales will become very much like that in Scotland where the marriage takes place, a document is signed and registered later. One point about the Scottish system, however, is that because the document as seen on ScotlandsPeople is not the original but the registered copy entered into a book, it doesn't contain signatures of the parties.

Of course, the riposte to that is that neither does the English GRO marriage certificate now! But, currently we can (sometimes) get copies with signatures from the local Superintendent Registrar. Whether we will be able to get a scan of the proposed signed document in the future is unclear but, I suggest, unlikely. Access to the equivalent signed copies in Scotland seems impractical, while when I look at the English death certificates I've recently been the informant on, my signature is not on then, only that of the Registrar.

So it sort of looks like two steps forward, one step back?
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Re: Marriage Registers Bill (2017)

Postby JaneyH » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:56 pm

Adrian,

The Bill has almost no chance of becoming law, at least in the current session of Parliament. Last week was the last date for Private Members Bills to be debated (Report Stage and 3rd Reading) but this bill doesn't even have a date for a Committee Stage.

Further details here, including a link to the Commons Library briefing (see "all bill documents").

Of course it's always possible that the same MP (or a different one) could introduce the same (or a similar) bill in the next session. Bear in mind that very few Private Members Bills ever reach the statute book - they need to be in the top 4/5 in the ballot and - ideally - have Government support too.


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Re: Marriage Registers Bill (2017)

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:18 pm

Ah, I'm glad someone can find their way round the details and knows the relevant dates.

I did find the briefing note and concentrated on reading that but the likelihood of passing or not, well, that passed me by.

Thanks Janey.

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Re: Marriage Registers Bill (2017)

Postby junkers » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:28 pm

It only needs one MP to object or talk it out and it falls. There is
Also the issue that all Acts need a Money Resolution and without Government support it will fail.
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Re: Marriage Registers Bill (2017)

Postby AntonyM » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:50 pm

This comes about from a statement/promise made by David Cameron when he was PM that mother's names would be included on marriage registers.

When it came to looking at implementation it was realised that the cost of replacing every register currently in use would run into millions of pounds so an electronic based system (based on that currently used for civil partnerships) has been proposed which does away with the need for the marriage register completely.

I spoke to a registrar colleague recently and they are aware of the proposal and discussions are taking place to be ready for implementation.

The best explanation of what is proposed is in this note:

https://www.publications.parliament.uk/ ... 14en03.htm

There are on-going reviews of marriage legislation ( especially that related to venues and humanist celebrants) that complicates things and the changes may end up all being brought in together in some form.
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Re: Marriage Registers Bill (2017)

Postby AdrianB38 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 3:18 pm

Although the proposal that you reference, Antony, does seem to be the Private Member's Bill that Janey suggests is running out of time, so unless the Government takes it on or things happen very quickly, then I am presuming that it'll go nowhere.

I have to say that the cost of replacing all the registers in use would seem quite slim when compared with the likely costs of any government procured IT system - especially when you realise that the Church of England marriage registers (of identical format!) will presumably need to all be replaced anyway! (Who pays for those, I wonder?)

I suppose that someone could modify the civil partnership system, but the problem is stopping the procuring department from saying, "Yes, that's fine but can you just add this bit on....?"

We shall see... Eventually... In the fullness of time, Minister...
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Re: Marriage Registers Bill (2017)

Postby AntonyM » Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:10 am

Adrian

Having been involved in such IT system procurement in my past I understand your concerns, however in this case the clever bit about the proposal is that would just use the existing system.

Marriages are already registered electronically after the event from the register details so that the data can be transferred to GRO and to allow easy production of certificates. With this proposal it is the paper system that precedes the use of the IT that changes, not the IT system itself.

It is the cost of thousands of church registers that was deemed too expensive - the proposal gets rid of the requirement for these as well, so saves money all round ! Of course the church could choose to keep its own non-statutory register (at their own expense) in the future as some do now.

I suppose it is the law of unintended consequences - the fight to include mother's details on the registers may well result in the scrapping of those registers altogether, which would be very sad for future historians.


As you say - in the fullness of time !
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Re: Marriage Registers Bill (2017)

Postby AdrianB38 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:38 am

Ah.... Thank you, Antony. The pre-existence of a GRO IT system for marriages was not obvious in the briefing note. Indeed, the reference to the civil partnership process led me down the road of imagining the creation of a new or highly modified IT system. Not true, it seems.

As for replacing the church registers - I suggest that if the parish clerks write carefully, they could get both names in the existing space, until new registers are printed.

More worrying for me is the apparent suggestion in the briefing note that the marriage schedule is to be returned by the happy couple, rather than the minister. Seems to me that there's a risk that schedules will be lost, especially if they go via a wedding reception where drink might be taken!

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Re: Marriage Registers Bill (2017)

Postby junkers » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:03 pm

As I expected the Bill has 'fallen', i.e. it did not pass through Parliament before the General Election was called and therefore an MP would need to win the Private Members' Ballot again to reintroduce it in the new Session.
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Re: Marriage Registers Bill (2017)

Postby JaneyH » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:29 pm

Indeed. It would need (a) an MP to pick this up as a cause and (b) for him/her to come in the top 20 of the ballot of MPs for Private Members Bills. Even then very few PMBs become law ...


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