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Civil Partnerships Bill proceeds to committee in House of Lords

Amendments to be laid before the House in committee

The Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc) Bill, sponsored by Tim Loughton and Baroness Hodgson of Abinger, has received its second reading in the House of Lords and will now proceed to committee.

Clause 2 of the Bill, as currently drafted, requires the Secretary of State to make regulations to change the law relating to civil partnership to bring about equality between same-sex couples and other couples to form civil partnerships. Such regulations must be introduced within six months of the Bill becoming law.

Government ministers have expressed concern about the clause's ability in its current form to deliver an effective and comprehensive opposite-sex civil partnership regime in the time it provides for.

In the House of Lords second reading debate Baroness Williams of Trafford, Minister of State at the Home Office, said:

"[W]e have some concerns about the lack of detail in the regulation-making power as drafted. We are pleased to be working closely with [Baroness Hodgson of Abinger] and the Bill's sponsor in the other place, Tim Loughton, to draft a new amendment to the Bill, which we hope to lay before the House in Committee. This will hopefully address the concerns about the current shape of the clause and ensure that the Bill can deliver a comprehensive and robust opposite-sex civil partnership regime as soon as possible."

The Minister confirmed that the Government has no plans to extend civil partnerships to siblings. A Bill which seeks to achieve this, sponsored by Lord Lexden, received a second reading in the House of Lords last July. The Minister's comment suggests that the Bill will not receive government support.

For the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc) Bill, as currently drafted, click here. To follow progress of the Bill, click here. For details of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) (Sibling Couples) Bill, click here.