Orders of the Day — Civil Partnership Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:38 pm on 12th October 2004.

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Photo of Charles Hendry Charles Hendry Shadow Minister (Children, Young People and Families), Deputy Chair, Conservative Party 5:38 pm, 12th October 2004

I realise that that would have been entirely out of character.

The Bill is about fairness and justice. That is why it is so important. When I got married, like everyone else who has got married, I became eligible for certain rights and entitlements and, to go with that, certain responsibilities as well. So when one of us dies, the surviving spouse is entitled to inherent the family home and the family assets without being subject to inheritance tax. We can benefit from the other one's pension contributions, particularly in the circumstances of death. For those people who live in social housing, the tenancy would transfer automatically from one to the other without any question of whether that was right.

Marriage also brings with it certain entitlements that are so self-evident that it is not possible to conceive of the position being otherwise. For example, in the event of one spouse being injured in an accident, the other is entitled to give their opinion on what should happen and what is the appropriate medical treatment; they are entitled to visit their spouse in hospital without anyone being able to say, "You shouldn't be here—you're not entitled." A spouse can act as an active next of kin: my wife and I have to fill in a form for our children at school saying who should be called in the event of an accident, and we name each other as next of kin. That, to me, is so self-evidently right that it is inconceivable that it could be done in any other way.