The minimum marriage age in England and Wales is to be raised from sixteen to eighteen under a new law hoping to prevent illegal child marriages.
While sixteen and seventeen year olds can currently marry with parental consent, campaigners have been warning that this legal loophole has been exploited and used to coerce some young people into child marriage.
The new law, proposed by Conservative MP Pauline Latham and first introduced in June last year, could see adults who arrange the marriage of children face up to to seven years in prison and receive a fine.
Latham said the legislation will also apply to cultural or religious marriages that are not registered with the local council, and will ‘transform the life chances of many girls’.
The legislation, which had its third reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday, will receive Royal Assent later this week, meaning it will become law from then.
The move has been praised by anti-child marriage campaigner Payzee Malika, who was coerced into marriage at the age of sixteen. Her sister Banaz was also murdered in a so-called ‘honour killing’.
She tweeted yesterday: “On my way to Parliament for The Third and Final reading of our Child Marriage Bill… Struggling to put in to words what this means.
“I feel so many emotions. This is real life change. This is for me, for Banaz, for any child impacted by child marriage.”
In a separate tweet, Payzee tweeted: “I’m just a girl from Kurdistan. I couldn’t imagine in a million years I would be working to end child marriage, sitting in Parliament hearing an incredible woman talking about the need to end child marriage.
“I will keep saying it, this is life saving. This is change.”
Figures released by the ONS last year show that 140 teenage girls and 43 teenage boys were married with parental consent in 2017.
Last year, Health Secretary Sajid Javid drafted a bill to end the rule that allowed sixteen and seventeen year olds to marry with their parents’ permission, arguing that research showed most of these unions were ‘coerced or forced for cultural and religious reasons’.
Huge protests taking place in Manchester and UK this weekend over soaring cost of living
Thousands of people are set to protest the government’s response to the cost of living crisis
Thousands of people are set to take to the streets across the UK this weekend in protest of the soaring cost of living.
Enough is Enough – a campaign group calling for the government to take action against the ongoing cost of living crisis – has so far organised rallies in fifty different towns and cities across the country for this Saturday (October 1st).
Manchester is one of the cities involved in the mass protests, with a rally due to begin at 12pm at Piccadilly Gardens.
Other locations also staging protests include Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Ellesmere Port, Preston and Sheffield.
The campaign wrote on its official Instagram account: “It’s time to say #EnoughlsEnough.
“No to handouts for the rich and hardship for the rest. This Saturday, October 1st, we’ll be protesting in 50 cities and towns across Britain.
“Main protests on listed graphic but dozens more on the website. Join the campaign today to find out about your local event.”
Enough Is Enough was established by trade union and community organisation leaders over the summer in a bid to ‘push back against the misery forced on millions by rising bills, low wages, food poverty, shoddy housing and a society run only for a wealthy elite’.
The campaign has five demands:
- A real pay rise.
- Slash energy bills.
- End food poverty.
- Decent homes for all.
- Tax the rich.
Back in August, Mayor Andy Burnham threw his support behind the movement, with him attending a protest in Manchester on August 30th.
Speaking to Channel 4 news outside of Manchester Cathedral ahead of the rally, Burnham said: “I go round this city all the time. People are scared. They don’t know how they’re going to get through.
“People’s resilience is already low. Their mental health is low. How are people going to get through?”
Visit the Enough Is Enough website for more information on the movement and any protests happening near you.
All primary school kids to get free breakfast as part of Labour’s childcare plan
Labour hopes to fund the plan by reversing Kwasi Kwarteng’s abolition of the 45p higher tax rate
All primary school pupils will receive free breakfast under Labour’s newly unveiled childcare plan.
Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson will announce the plan at the Labour conference in Liverpool today, where she will reveal that all children regardless of wealth would get a free morning meal.
Currently, schools are only eligible for free breakfasts if 40% of their pupils come from poorer families.
Labour say the plan would cost roughly £365million, and would be funded by reversing Kwasi Kwarteng’s abolition of the 45p higher tax rate.
The reintroduction of the tax rate would bring in an estimated £2billion, with the remaining cash to go towards a recruitment drive of NHS doctors, nurses and midwives.
Phillipson also hopes the pledge will reduce childcare costs for parents who need to start work early.
She will say at the conference today: “Labour will build a modern childcare system. One that supports families from the end of parental leave through to the end of primary school.
“As the first step on that road, we will introduce breakfast clubs for every primary school child in England, driving up standards in maths, reading, and writing, and giving mams and dads choices.”
The Association of School and College Leaders said of the plan: “Not only is this important in terms of wellbeing, but it is also educationally important as pupils are not in a fit state to learn if they are hungry.”
Research by KidsHealth.org showed that high protein and fibre-rich breakfasts help to boost children’s attention span, concentration and memory, all of which are essential for good performance at school.
By reducing the stress of the morning routine for families and children, breakfast clubs can also help to improve behaviour and attendance.
Sam Bailey, the headteacher of the Forest Academy in Barnsley, said after the launch of their own free breakfast club: “Pupil behaviour has improved dramatically and attitudes to learning are the best they have ever been.”
Manchester ruled out of hosting Eurovision 2023
BREAKING: The decision now lays between two northern cities
Manchester has been ruled out of hosting the Eurovision song contest for 2023 as the shortlist for cities is cut from seven to two.
The BBC has announced today that Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield have been axed from the shortlist of wannabe hosts for the competition.
This leaves Liverpool and Glasgow as the last standing contenders.
The BBC said the two remaining cities, which both have riverside arena venues, had ‘the strongest overall offer’.
A final decision will be made ‘within weeks’, the broadcaster added.
If Liverpool is selected as the host, the competition would be staged at the 11,000-capacity dockside M&S Bank Arena, which is next to a conference centre and near the city centre’s hotels and rail links.
In Glasgow, alternatively, the 14,300-capacity OVO Hydro venue would play home to Eurovision.
Liverpool and Glasgow will be scored on a set of criteria, the BBC said, including:
- “Having a suitable venue and sufficient space to deliver the requirements of the Song Contest.
- “The commitment that can be made by a city or region to hosting the event, including the financial contribution.
- “The strength of the cultural offer which includes off screen local and regional activity as well as showcasing Ukrainian culture and music.
- “And alignment with the BBC’s strategic priorities as a public service broadcaster, such as providing value to all audiences and supporting the creative economy in the UK.”
It was announced last month that the UK would host the annual song contest for the first time in twenty-four years after organisers decided it could not go ahead in Ukraine – who won this year’s competition – due to the ongoing conflict with Russia.
The UK came in second place thanks to Sam Ryder’s smash-hit ‘Spaceman’, prompting the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to open talks with the BBC.
A statement from BBC director general Tim Davie read: “It is a matter of great regret that our colleagues and friends in Ukraine are not able to host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest.
“Being asked to host the largest and most complex music competition in the world is a great privilege. The BBC is committed to making the event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity.”