HL Deb 08 July 1996 vol 574 cc11-2

Read a third time.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass. I shall not delay your Lordships' House for longer than two minutes. I wish to take the opportunity to thank the honourable Member for Canterbury for looking after the Bill in another place. I also thank those Members of the House who have shown an interest in the Bill.

Your Lordships will remember that I find myself in the strange position of looking after a piece of legislation which will have no effect upon the Church of England but which will be warmly welcomed by Roman Catholic and Free Churches in this country. When in force, it will allow for alternative forms of the prescribed words that are used in marriage ceremonies. As a result of recent liturgical revision, the present form of words as required by law for the oaths and declarations do not sit happily within celebrations of holy matrimony within the churches affected. That is those other than the Church of England, the Jewish community or the Society of Friends.

It should be borne in mind that in addition, although the primary purpose of the Bill is to permit alternative words in a marriage service solemnised in a church, it will also enable the new alternative words to be used in a marriage in a register office and certain other forms of civil ceremony, including marriages in approved premises under the Marriage Act 1994.

In introducing the Second Reading, I said that it was very much a tidying up operation. Having debated some of the problems that marriages face in today's society during the Committee stage of the Bill and having, I trust, reassured the noble Lords who contributed to that debate that the Churches share in the concerns that were expressed, I now hope that the House will give its final approval to the Bill. In doing so, we will have tidied up something which is on the one hand minor but in the context of a ceremony as important as marriage an irritating anachronism. I commend the Bill to the House.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(The Lord Bishop of Southwark.)

On Question, Bill passed.