Rachel is backing a new law to make child marriage in England and Wales illegal.

The new law, proposed by Pauline Latham MP in her Private Member’s Bill, will raise the minimum age of marriage from 16 to 18.

The Government is now backing the Bill and last Friday (November 19th), the Bill cleared a significant parliamentary hurdle after passing its Second Reading in the House of Commons.

As Minister for Safeguarding, Rachel led the work on behalf of the Home Office to ensure the Bill passed through the House of Commons with Government support.

Rachel said:

The laws of marriage in this country date back to 1929, and while we have outlawed forced marriage, children of 16 and 17 can still get married with their parents’ permission.

“This leads to many girls ending up in forced marriages in all but name – robbing them of their childhood, education and life chances.

“Once this Bill becomes law, it will no longer be possible for 16 and 17 year olds to have any kind of marriage, including a religious or cultural one, in England and Wales.

“This new law will protect many girls from having their futures destroyed.

“I don’t believe any child should be getting married at 16 or 17 and taking on that responsibility. It is our duty as a civilised society to allow them to develop to maturity without thrusting adult roles on them too early.”