HC Deb 20 February 1995 vol 255 cc56-7W
Mr. Robert Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the refusal of the Registrar General to grant temporary written authorisation to the Humanist Society in Scotland to solemnise a marriage under section 12 of the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977.

Mr. Lang

Sections 9 to 16 of the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 deal with religious marriages solemnised by approved celebrants, defined in section 8. Section 12 gives the Registrar General power to grant a temporary written authorisation to a person over the age of 21 to solemnise a specified marriage or marriages. The Humanist Society of Scotland wrote to the Registrar General in November 1994 seeking an authorisation under section 12 for a person to solemnise a particular marriage, but it made it clear in its application that this would not be a religious marriage. The Registrar General, having obtained legal advice, replied to the effect that, as the proposed marriage ceremony was not intended to be the religious solemnisation of a marriage, he had no power to grant authorisation. The Secretary of State has no function in granting such authorisations and it would therefore be inappropriate for him to comment upon the matter.