Good news that one cannot share? Ohio State University’s Centre for Human Resource Research, who have been tracking nearly 10,000 people since they were teenagers in 1979, have discovered that to be married and to stay married will almost double your personal wealth in a quarter of a century – more precisely, married participants were 93% richer than those who had remained single.

So why not tell people? Because those who marry (unwisely?) and then divorce are likely to be considerably poorer than those who remained single – 77% poorer to be precise. From a financial point of view, that makes it something of a gamble. From a theological point of view, it is more interesting.

quick answer to Mr Fletcher [Letters p.18]. The supposed ‘vows’ at a civil partnership are not part of the formal ceremony. They are merely secondary embellishments – like music or flowers.

The Western Isles have, bravely, banned all such embellishments from both civil partnerships and civil marriages, thus making it clear that one ceremony has vows, the other does not. They have been the object of vilification from gay activists.

One restriction applies: ‘No religious service is to be used while the civil partnership registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership document.’ [2.5]

If you are still uncertain and want the precise wording of the Act, it is this: ‘Two people are to be regarded as having registered as civil partners of each other once each of them has signed the civil partnership document, at the invitation of, and in the presence of, a civil partnership registrar, and in the presence of each other and two witnesses.’ [2.1]

As the Government Minister made clear in Parliament (24 June 2004), ‘It is the signing of the civil partnership document in an administrative procedure that marks the moment of the formation of the partnership and the change of status. We believe that that is simple, clear and all that is necessary. To add into that procedure a requirement for these spoken words [suggested in an amendment] would alter the emphasis of the procedure.’