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Orders of the Day — Civil Partnership Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:05 pm on 12th October 2004.

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Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Shadow Minister (Defence) 6:05 pm, 12th October 2004

I shall assume that my hon. Friend thinks that I am extremely clever, as I know that he is a very generous man. I do not accept his point, and he is unfair in adducing those remarks to me. I cannot remember exactly what I said on 10 February, but obviously my hon. Friend, with his encyclopaedic mind, can.

Hon. Members, including Front Benchers, are overwhelmingly in favour of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton is a veritable pocket battleship, and he made a very good speech. I did not agree with it, but I entirely respect his right to make it, and I am delighted that he did so in his personal capacity. If the chips were down and we were under fire, I would happily share a trench with my hon. Friend. I hope that he will take comfort from that.

If there is an overwhelming view in this Chamber, I do not believe the view outside to be the same. This is a highly controversial issue, and there are people outside who do not agree with civil partnerships. Furthermore, those people will be astonished that the Bill is being rammed through the House in the space of about 10 days. That is not the way to treat an issue of such major importance. Such people regard this Bill as gay marriage in all but name, and they simply think that that is wrong. They are our constituents, they are decent people—