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

My hon. Friend makes an entirely appropriate comment and one that I was about to make when he intervened. Our hon. Friend Mr. Key said that there was a generational dimension to the debate. Young people in their 20s, 30s and 40s want this House to look like the society in which they live. They want it to be a place where racism, sexism and issues of sexuality have no part to play—a place where we simply get on and discuss the issues as grown-up individuals, rather than as people who are stuck in the past. An entire generation cannot understand a Parliament or parties that do not think in that way. Mrs. Roche said that in years to come people will read this debate and say, "I wish I'd been there." I disagree: I think that they will read it and say, "What was all that about?" They will not understand why on earth we had to have this debate. The world in which they live is understanding and accepting. To them, debates about whether such things are right or wrong belong to an era to which they do not relate.

I echo the hon. Lady's praise for Stonewall. The dignified way in which its members have conducted the debate, using quiet persuasion and showing great understanding, is one of the reasons it has moved forward as it has. We all owe Stonewall a great debt of gratitude.