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Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill receives third reading

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill received an unopposed third reading in the House of Commons on Friday, 25 February 2020.

The Bill would raise to 18 the minimum age for marriage and civil partnership in England and Wales. The Explanatory Notes state how this might affect marriages and civil partnerships which take place outside of England and Wales:

"The anticipated effect of this change on the common law will also mean that any marriages which take place overseas, or in Scotland or Northern Ireland, involving under 18s where one of the parties is domiciled in England and Wales, will not be legally recognised in England and Wales. This change to recognition will also apply to civil partnerships."

The Bill has been amended to prevent those aged 16 and 17 from England and Wales from being taken to Northern Ireland or Scotland and coerced into marrying there, something Paula Latham, the Bill's sponsor, described as the "Gretna Green exemption".

Justice minister Tom Pursglove assured Ms Latham that there would be "no needless or unnecessary delay" in making the Bill law as soon as possible.

The Bill will now pass to the House of Lords.

For a House of Commons Library briefing paper covering the Bill, published in anticipation of report and third reading, click here. To follow progress of the Bill, click here. For the House of Commons debate, click here.