Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:23 am on 1st April 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Sugg Baroness Sugg Conservative 11:23 am, 1st April 2022

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have participated in this short but important debate. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Worcester raises an important point that should properly be considered outside the Bill, and I thank him for doing so. The noble Baroness, Lady Hussein-Ece, has long been a campaigner in this area and, as we heard, tried for her own Private Member’s Bill, so I am delighted that this Bill delivers her goals. My noble friend Lord Lilley made the clear case for why the age limit should be raised to 18 in everything from education and training to tattoos. As someone who got a tattoo at the age of 18, I am certainly pleased that I was not able to at an earlier age.

I thank my noble friend Lord Cormack and the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, for their support of the Bill. I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Collins, for such full support from the Labour Party. It has been heartening to hear support for the Bill from all sides. I hope that it makes very swift progress through its remaining stages in this place. I thank my noble friend the Minister for her response and for stepping up to the plate this morning to do so. It is so important that it is commenced as soon as possible and that we get the guidance and education right. She can be assured that I and Mrs Latham will continue to check in on this with the department to make sure that we are making good progress.

I should like to close by sharing some words from Payzee, with her kind permission:

“I did not choose child marriage, it ruined my future. It led me astray from my dreams of focussing on my education, it took away the best years of my life. I’ll never again be that innocent 16-year-old … it is for us to change things for the next generation and make child marriage a crime, so they don’t suffer like I have.”

This Bill is for her, for her sister Banaz, for Farhana, and for everyone who has been harmed by child marriage.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.