Draft Legislative Reform (Civil Partnership) Order 2010 - Regulatory Reform Committee Contents

1  What the draft Order proposes

1. The draft Legislative Reform (Civil Partnership) Order 2010 and Explanatory Document (ED) were laid before Parliament by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on 25 October 2010 under section 14(1) of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 (LRRA). The FCO recommended that the negative resolution procedure should apply to the draft Order.

2. Section 210 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (CPA 2004) currently provides for registration of civil partnerships at British consulates subject to "the presence of a prescribed officer of Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service (HMDS)". As the ED explains, at the time the CPA 2004 came into force all UK consular sections had at least some British consular officers who were officers of HMDS and thus able to undertake civil partnership registrations under section 210.[1] However, since then there has been a programme of change across the overseas network with the result that many consular officer jobs are now filled locally. Consequently, consular posts with only locally engaged staff are now unable to comply with the requirements of the CPA 2004 for registering a same sex partnership, a situation which will apply more widely as the localisation programme continues.

3. The draft Order seeks to amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to allow locally engaged officials approved by the Secretary of State to conduct civil partnership registrations, as is already permitted in the case of marriages conducted overseas.[2] It would achieve this by amending the CPA 2004 so that those authorised to conduct civil partnership registrations include, in cases where there is no consular representative, persons authorised by the Secretary of State. The relevant staff are often already trained to carry out marriage ceremony work, but, where necessary, staff who undertake the additional work will be given suitable training.[3]

4. The proposal is uncontroversial, with consultation prompting only one response (from the gay equality organisation Stonewall) which was entirely in favour. Those actively consulted were, within Government: the Ministry of Justice, the FCO, the General Register Office, the then Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, and the Department for Work and Pensions. Those consulted outside of Government were: Stonewall, the Gay and Lesbian Foundation, and the Consortium of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Voluntary and Community Groups. The consultation document was also available on the FCO website for 12 weeks. As the only consultation response was entirely in favour, no changes were made to the draft proposal following consultation.

1   ED, paragraph 5 Back

2   ibid. Back

3   ED, paragraph 13 Back

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Prepared 11 November 2010