Dr Smith’s legislation, Registration of Marriage Bill, is based on a draft put forward last year by Edward Agar, a Conservative MP, but which was not debated because of the dissolution of Parliament for the General Election. It is understood that officials helped with the drafting.
The current system of marriage registration has remained virtually unchanged since 1837, with marriages recorded in around 84,000 registered books held in churches, other religious premises, and register offices.
Marriage certificates are an exact copy of a register entry, meaning that the register would need to be altered in order to produce a certificate for an existing marriage containing additional information.
Previous estimates had put the costs of replacing the existing books at some £13 million. The Home Office estimates that the set-up costs of the proposed digital system would be less than £1.3 million, with some £30 million of savings over 10 years as a result of the change.