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Amendment agreed to.

Clause 49

Grounds on which civil partnership is void

Mr. Chope : I beg to move amendment No. 11, in page 24, line 22, at end insert

', or

(d)   the necessary declaration under section 8 includes a false statement relating to the qualifying condition under Schedule 23.'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 31, in clause 210, page 101, line 39 at end insert—

'(6)   Where the conditions in subsection (2) are met but one of the proposed civil partners is not a United Kingdom national the two proposed civil partners may choose—

(a)   to register in prescribed countries or territories outside the United Kingdom, or

(b)   to register as civil partners within the United Kingdom, for which purpose, when required, an appropriate visa will be issued to the proposed partner who is not a United Kingdom national.'.

Mr. Chope: Amendment No. 11 would bring the Bill into line with where the Minister thought that it was in Committee. It would mean that a false statement made to enter into a civil partnership in order to avoid immigration control would render that partnership void. Surely a false statement to avoid immigration control should be a ground on which a civil partnership is rendered void, along with the other grounds set out in clause 49. One of those grounds is that the partners were not eligible to register as civil partners under chapter 1, and surely that is analogous to a situation in which one of the parties makes a false statement to avoid immigration control.

The Government obviously thought that that provision was included in the Bill. The Minister was gracious enough to write to members of the Committee explaining that her understanding had been wrong. I tabled the amendment so that the Bill can now reflect what she thought was the proper position. She said that she thought that she had made an unintentional error, and this is an opportunity for the Government to put that right.
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Mr. Carmichael: I rise to speak to amendment No. 31, which stands in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Malcolm Bruce). The amendment's purpose is to allow the Minister to place on the record whether the Government will allow something akin to what is known informally as a fiancée visa, so that people who come to the United Kingdom and who anticipate entering a civil partnership agreement will be allowed a visa to enable them to do so.

Jacqui Smith: As the hon. Member for Christchurch said, amendment No. 11 is a probing amendment. It provides that a civil partnership would be void if a declaration made under clause 8 contained a false statement relating to the qualifying condition in schedule 23. I reiterate that I was wrong and that a civil partnership would not be void in that situation. Clause 8 requires a declaration to be made, but no legal impediment exists to the formation of a civil partnership. Each of the proposed civil partners must have a usual place of residence in England or Wales for at least seven days before giving notice.

Schedule 23 provides that where one of the proposed civil partners is subject to immigration control, the declaration under clause 8 must also include a statement that the qualifying condition is satisfied. The qualifying condition would be satisfied where a person subject to immigration control has an entry clearance granted expressly for the purpose of enabling him or her to form a civil partnership in the United Kingdom.

I shall quickly skip to amendment No. 31. The provision is equivalent to what the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland described as a fiancée visa, so I can give him that assurance.

Mr. Chope: In the short time that remains, can the Minister explain why a false statement would not render a partnership void?

Jacqui Smith: Our approach is appropriate. If one makes a false statement about the declaration, one should be subject to the offences in clause 80. If one uses false documents in order to prove a particular point, one should be subject to forgery and counterfeiting legislation. If a civil partnership does not appear to be genuine—for example, the partners may not intend to live together permanently as civil partners—any existing leave to remain in the United Kingdom granted on the basis of that civil partnership might be curtailed, and any future application for leave to remain on that basis might be refused under the immigration rules. Those seem to me to be the appropriate penalties, as opposed to the uncertainty that could arise from saying that this is grounds for voiding a civil partnership that might, of course, have been in existence for a considerable period at the point at which—

It being Six o'clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker, put the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [12 October].

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Deputy Speaker then proceeded to put the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that hour, pursuant to Order [12 October].

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Clause 93

Place Of Registration

Amendments made: No. 22, in page 44, line 7, at end insert—

'(   )   The place of registration may, if the approval of the Registrar General is obtained, be outwith the district of the authorised registrar carrying out the registration.'.

No. 23, in page 44, line 8, leave out from 'be' to end of line 10 and insert

'in religious premises, that is to say in premises which—

(a)   are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or

(b)   have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.'.

No. 24, in page 44, line 12, leave out

'; and "known" means known to the local registration authority'.—[Jacqui Smith.]

Clause 215

Overseas relationships treated as civil partnerships: the general rule

Amendment made: No. 25, in page 104, line 4, at end insert—

'(3A)   But if—

(a)   before this section comes into force, a dissolution or annulment of the overseas relationship was obtained outside the United Kingdom, and

(b)   the dissolution or annulment would be recognised under Chapter 3 if the overseas relationship had been treated as a civil partnership at the time of the dissolution or annulment,

subsection (3) does not apply and subsections (1) and (2) have effect subject to subsection (3B).

(3B)   The overseas relationship is not to be treated as having been a civil partnership for the purposes of any provisions except—

(a)   Schedules 7, 11 and 17 (financial relief in United Kingdom after dissolution or annulment obtained outside the United Kingdom);

(b)   such provisions as are specified (with or without modifications) in an order under section 259;

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