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Why not civil partnerships for siblings?

Private member’s bill due for committee consideration in House of Lords

In the wake of the news that the government will extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples, Sir Edward Leigh MP tweeted: Why not for siblings too? A further tweet said: Why should siblings who've lived together for years have to pay estate duty when one dies? See Lord Lexden's bill earlier this year.

The MP was referring to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) (Sibling Couples) Bill. That bill, sponsored by Lord Lexden, received its second reading in the House of Lords on 20 July 2018.

The Bill would amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to include sibling couples. In the second reading debate, Lord Lexden explained the rationale of his bill:

"Why do committed platonic sibling couples need the legal rights they would gain by becoming civil partners? The cruellest aspect of the current state of affairs is the terrible situation that can arise when one member of the committed sibling couple dies. Their joint home, owned by them both and the repository of a lifestyle of shared experiences and memories, has an importance to them that goes beyond bricks and mortar. Yet the rise in the value of property in our time often means that a home that has been shared for decades must be sold when the first sibling dies to raise the inheritance tax on his or her share. Living with the knowledge that this could happen at any time can cause years of apprehension and anxiety that members of the committed, platonic family unit ought surely to be spared. Loss of the shared home creates huge additional misery when two siblings are parted by death."

The bill is due to be considered in committee on a date to be fixed.

For the bill, click here. For the Hansard record of the second reading debate, click here. For an article on the BBC News website, click here.