Marriage (Approved Organisations) Bill (HL Bill 17)

A

BILL

TO

Amend the law on marriage to permit the Registrar General to permit certain
charitable organisations to solemnise marriages.

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 Marriages according to usages of approved organisations

In the Marriage Act 1949, after section 47, insert the following section—

47A Marriages according to usages of approved organisations

(1) The Registrar General may by certificate approve organisations to
5solemnise marriages according to their usages provided that any such
organisation—

(a) is a registered charity concerned with advancing or practising a
religion or belief, including a non-religious belief;

(b) does not possess or have the use of any registered place of
10worship; and

(c) appears to the Registrar General to be of good repute.

(2) In the certificate referred to in subsection (1) the Registrar General shall
designate an officer of the organisation (“the principal officer”) to
appoint persons for stated periods of time to act as registering officers
15on behalf of the organisation, and may impose such conditions as seem
to him or her to be desirable relative to the conduct of marriages by the
organisation and to the safe custody of marriage register books.

(3) The principal officer shall, within the prescribed time and in the
prescribed manner, certify the names and addresses of the persons so
20appointed to the Registrar General and to the superintendent registrars
of the registration districts in which such persons live, together with
such other details as the Registrar General shall require.

(4) A marriage shall not be solemnised according to the usages of an
approved organisation until duplicate marriage register books have

Marriage (Approved Organisations) BillPage 2

been supplied by the Registrar General under Part IV of this Act to the
registering officers appointed to act on behalf of the organisation.

(5) If the Registrar General is not satisfied with respect to any registering
officer of the approved organisation that sufficient security exists for
5the safe custody of marriage register books, he or she may in his or her
discretion suspend the appointment of that registering officer.

(6) A marriage to which this section applies shall be solemnised with open
doors in the presence of either—

(a) a registrar of the registration district in which the marriage
10takes place; or

(b) a registering officer appointed under subsection (2) whose
name and address have been certified in accordance with
subsection (3) and of two witnesses;

and the persons to be married shall make the declarations and use the
15form of words set out in subsection (3) or (3A) of section 44.

(7) A marriage solemnised according to the usages of an approved
organisation shall not be valid unless there is produced to the
superintendent registrar, at the time when notice of marriage is given,
a certificate signed by the principal officer or a registering officer of the
20approved organisation that each person giving notice of marriage is a
member of the said organisation.

(8) A certificate under subsection (7) shall be for all purposes conclusive
evidence that any person to whom it relates is authorised to be married
according to the usages of the said organisation and the entry of the
25marriage in a marriage register book under Part IV of this Act, or a
certified copy thereof made under the said Part IV, shall be conclusive
evidence of the production of such a certificate.

2 Consequential amendments

The Marriage Act 1949 shall have effect subject to the amendments specified in
30the Schedule to this Act.

3 Citation, commencement and extent

(1) This Act extends to England and Wales.

(2) This Act may be cited as the Marriage (Approved Organisations) Act 2012 and
together with the Marriage Acts 1949 to 1994 and the Marriage (Wales) Acts
351986 to 2010 may be cited as the Marriage Acts 1949 to 2012.

(3) This Act shall come into force at the end of the period of three months
beginning with the day on which it is passed.

Marriage (Approved Organisations) BillPage 3

Section 2

Schedule Consequential amendments

The following amendments are made to the Marriage Act 1949—

(1) In section 26 (marriages which may be solemnised on authority of
5superintendent registrar’s certificate) in subsection (1) after paragraph (c)
there is inserted—

(ca) a marriage conducted under the auspices of an approved
organisation;.

(2) In section 35 (marriages in registration district in which neither party
10resides) after “the Society of Friends” there is inserted “or of an approved
organisation”.

(3) In section 43 (appointment of authorised persons) in subsection (3) after “the
Society of Friends” there is inserted “or of an organisation authorised by the
Registrar General under section 47A”.

(4) 15In section 50 (person to whom certificate to be delivered), in subsection (1)
after paragraph (d) there is inserted—

(da) if the marriage is to be solemnised according to the usages of
an approved organisation, a registering officer of that
organisation.

(5) 20After section 52, the following section is inserted—

52A Interpretation

In this Part of this Act “approved organisation” has the meaning
given to it in section 67.

(6) In section 53 (persons by whom marriages are to be registered), after
25paragraph (b) there is inserted—

(ba) in the case of a marriage solemnised according to the usages
of an approved organisation, a registering officer of that
organisation;.

(7) In section 54 (provision of marriage register books by Registrar General), in
30subsection (1) after the words “the Society of Friends,” there is inserted
“registering officer of every approved organisation”.

(8) In section 55 (manner of registration of marriages)—

(a) in subsection (1) after the words “the Society of Friends” there is
inserted “or of an approved organisation”; and

(b) 35in subsection (1)(b) after the words “the Society of Friends” there is
inserted “or of an approved organisation” and after the words “the
said Society” there is inserted “or organisation”.

(9) In section 57 (quarterly returns to be made to superintendent registrar), in
subsection (1) after the words “the Society of Friends” there is inserted “or of
40an approved organisation”.

Marriage (Approved Organisations) BillPage 4

(10) In section 59 (custody of register books) after the words “the Society of
Friends” there is inserted “or of an approved organisation”.

(11) In section 60 (filled register books) in subsection (1), paragraph (b), after the
words “registering officer of the Society of Friends” there is inserted “or of
5an approved organisation”; after the words “members of the Society of
Friends” there is inserted “or of the said organisation”, and after the words
“the said Society” there is inserted “or organisation”.

(12) In section 63 (searches in register books) after the words “the Society of
Friends” there is inserted “or of an approved organisation”.

(13) 10In section 67 (interpretation of Part IV), there are inserted in the list of
definitions the following—

  • “approved organisation” means an organisation approved by
    the Registrar General under section 47A of this Act;” and

  • ““registering officer of an approved organisation” means a
    15person whom the principal officer of the said organisation
    certifies in writing under his or her hand to the Registrar
    General to be a registering officer in England or Wales of that
    organisation;;

and in the definition of “superintendent registrar” after paragraph (b)
20insert—

  • “( ba)

    in the case of a marriage registered by a registering
    officer of an approved organisation, the superintendent
    registrar of the registration district which is assigned by
    the Registrar General to that registering officer;.

(14) 25In section 75 (offences relating to solemnisation of marriages) in subsection
(1), paragraph (a), after the words “the Society of Friends” there is inserted
“or of an approved organisation”; and in subsection (2), paragraph (a), after
the words “the Society of Friends” there is inserted “or of an approved
organisation”.