To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ascertain the number of British citizens currently united in religious-only marriages.
30 November 2021
The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have, therefore, asked the Authority to respond.
Professor Sir Ian Diamond | National Statistician
House of Lords
23 November 2021
Dear Baroness Cox,
As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking what steps have been taken to ascertain the number of British citizens currently united in religious-only marriages (HL4074).
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for publishing marriage statistics for England and Wales. The most recent year for which marriage statistics are available is 20181. National Records Scotland (NRS) and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) are responsible for publishing marriage statistics for marriages registered in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.
An annual breakdown of the number of religious marriages which took place in England and Wales is available. A religious marriage is defined as a marriage solemnised in certified places of worship that are registered for marriage, and is carried out in accordance with the rites and ceremonies of a religious denomination.
To provide the number of British citizens currently united in religious-only marriages would potentially require changes to the civil registration process, as information about the nationality of individuals marrying is not provided to the ONS by the General Register Office, and this information is not collected during the marriage registration process.
Table 1 provides the number of religious marriages registered in England and Wales for each year for the period 2008 to 2018. It is important to note that these counts may be an underestimate as some marriages (such as Muslim and Sikh) undertaken in accordance with the rites and ceremonies of a religious denomination, may take place at unregistered premises. Such marriages do not meet the legal requirements needed in England and Wales for a religious marriage and are recorded as civil marriages.
Professor Sir Ian Diamond
Table 1: Number of religious marriages2 registered3 in England and Wales4, 2008 to 20185
Number of religious marriages
Source: Office for National Statistics
2 Marriage statistics are derived from information recorded when marriages are registered as part of civil registration, a legal requirement.
3 Figures include opposite-sex and same-sex marriages registered in England and Wales.
4 Figures exclude marriages to residents of England and Wales that took place abroad.
5 The latest marriage statistics available for are for 2018. It is currently only possible to publish final annual marriage statistics around 26 months after the end of the reference year due to delays in the submission of marriage entries by the clergy and registrars.