HC Deb 17 November 1965 vol 720 cc1127-8
17. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many marriages involving persons between the ages of 16 and 18 years occurred in each of the last 10 years; and if he will introduce legislation to raise the age limit.

Mr. Willis

The number of the marriages in which either one or both of the parties was 16 or 17 rose from 1,302 in 1954 to 2,938 in 1963. I shall, with permission, circulate figures for each year in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I am not aware of any general demand in Scotland for raising the lower age limit.

Mr. Hamilton

Is my hon. Friend using the argument that there is no demand for action as a reason for taking no action at all, because in that case the Judges Remuneration Act would never have gone through this House? Does not he think that the age of 16 is a very low age for this desperately lifelong commitment to be taken? Will not he reconsider the position? How long has this legislation been effective?

Mr. Willis

This was the common law of Scotland and was made statutory in 1929, so it has always been the law of Scotland. The question as to whether the age is too low is a matter of opinion. We have no evidence that there is any demand to change this law.

Following are the figures: The number of marriages registered in Scotland (a)where one or other of the parties was aged 16 or over but under 18
1954 1,302
1955 1,640
1956 1,815
1957 1,940
1958 1,960
1959 2,028
1960 2,316
1961 2,588
1962 2,683
1963 2,938

(b) where both the parties were age 16 or overbut under 18

1954 69
1955 113
1956 135
1957 132
1958 104
1959 113
1960 164
1961 189
1962 235
1963 304