Fiftieth Report Contents

Appendix 2: Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc): Amendments: Response

Letter from Baroness Hodgson of Abinger to the Rt Hon. Lord Blencathra, Chairman of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee

I am most grateful to the Committee for its further consideration of the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc.) Bill in its 48th Report of Session 2017–19.

As the Committee acknowledges, the amended version of clause 2 that I successfully moved at Committee stage on 1 February is significantly more detailed than the previous version. It now gives a much clearer indication of how the relevant delegated powers might be exercised in future.

The Committee raised some concerns about the drafting of the revised clause, which I have addressed in the paragraphs below.

In paragraph 19 of the Report, the Committee queried the Government’s rationale for not using the remedial order process (under section 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998) to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples. The Committee queried, in particular, the reference to the need to make “other changes that might be desirable or which are necessary” to establish a fully-functioning regime. I understand that the Government will need to consider a range of issues in order to bring about a fully-functioning and compliant opposite-sex civil partnership scheme. This includes matters such as future conversion rights which may not be consequential or incidental in nature and so may not fall within the limited scope of the remedial order-making power.

In paragraph 21 of the Report, the Committee restated its view that the principal changes to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”) should be set out on the face of the Bill, with a more limited power to make changes by regulations. The Committee queried the Government’s rationale for not adopting this approach. Again, changing the Bill in the way the Committee suggests could, I understand, prevent the Government from establishing a fully-functioning and compliant opposite-sex civil partnership regime. This is because the existing legal framework for civil partnerships, as set out in the 2004 Act, was designed only with same-sex couples in mind. Limiting the regulation-making power in clause 2 in the way the Committee suggests could prevent the Government from tackling issues such as religious protections and conversion rights that may go beyond changes that are simply consequential to the extension of eligibility to form a civil partnership.

In paragraph 22 of the Report, the Committee made four further recommendations:

6 March 2019





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