Anyone who attempts to force someone to marry could face jail under tough new measures unveiled by the government today.

In January the House of Lords voted to introduce new legislation through The Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Bill to give legal rights to victims of forced marriage.

The Bill would see women able to apply for an injunction in the civil courts to stop them being forced to marry.

Injunctions could also be sought by third parties acting on victims' behalf.

And as a last resort they could go to court to claim compensation for damages and injuries suffered.

But today the Government went a step further, giving more powers to the courts to support victims by amending the Bill.

Tony Blair has said the Government will support the Bill and has repeatedly praised Keighley MP Ann Cryer for her years of campaigning on the issue.

It will now mean someone who breaches the terms of an injunction against them could face jail.

Despite a breach not being a criminal offence - it would be classed as contempt of court - which can result in a prison sentence.

Baroness Ashton said: "Forced marriage is an intolerable breach of an individual's basic right to choose who and when they should marry. I am delighted to be able to provide Government support to Lord Lester's Bill that will enable us to make better use of civil court remedies to provide protection to those placed in this awful position.

"The changes to the law will enable courts to order injunctions and other measures to prevent forced marriages, and in some cases to attach powers of arrest if those orders are breached. They will become a powerful and useful new tool for those trying to protect victims of forced marriage."

Where a forced marriage has taken place, courts would be able to make orders to protect the victim and help remove them from that situation.

In addition the Bill enables county courts to hear forced marriage cases. Presently, they can only be heard by the High Court.

Guidance will also be issued to public bodies on how to deal with cases of forced marriage.

Peers are next due to debate the Bill on April 25.