A bishop has launched a campaign to see mothers’ names put on marriage certificates in a bid to end an “historic injustice”.

Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans, criticised the “archaic” system, which dates back to Victorian times, when children were considered to be ‘property’ of their fathers.

He has put forward a private members’ bill, which has passed its first parliamentary stage, in an attempt to reverse the little consideration given to women on this issue.

Dr Smith said: “As we approach the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, it is only right that we consider how existing legislation excludes or does not recognise the contributions made by women. This bill allows for this important and symbolic change to be made.”

He added that the concept should extend to all marriages, not just those that take place in Church of England churches.

The bill also includes a provision to modernise registration with electronic registers but will not alter “who can get married, or where they can get married, or who can perform that marriage”.

Dr Smith noted that these questions, including those relating to changes to marriage ceremonies and Church of England doctrine, “fall beyond the scope” of the bill.

Baroness Williams of Trafford, minister of state at the Home Office, commended the bishop for bringing the debate to the fore and backed his position.

She said: “It is a very important issue and one which the Government fully supports.

“I am grateful to the Right Revd Prelate for bringing this Bill forward to remove the inequality which currently exists.

“The marriage entry doesn’t reflect modern Britain and it’s high time it did.”

Having passed its second reading in the House of Lords, the bill will proceed to the committee stage. The second reading in the Commons, having been brought by Caroline Spelman, will take place at a later stage.