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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.
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 genuinefor example, the partners may not intend to live together permanently as civil partnersany 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
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