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

My view is that this is a Christian country and that all our laws are grounded in Christian tradition. As my hon. Friend Mr. Key said quite fairly, there is a difference of interpretation, and as time moves on, perhaps even more so. I am afraid, however, that I take the view that this is an overwhelmingly Christian country, that our laws must be founded on the Christian faith, and that it is right that bishops should sit in the other place. I support that.

There is no doubt that the Government are on a crusade. The Under-Secretary of State for Defence said in a debate on the armed forces that some measure was part of the Government's equality agenda. They want to force a cultural change on our society. To take lightly the deeply held convictions of so many people about the nature of marriage, and to try to force them to recant, is oppressive and dictatorial.

The issue is the nature of marriage, no matter what the Deputy Minister for Women and Equality may say. She has repeated the Government line, which is shared by my hon. Friends, that civil partnerships have nothing to do with marriage. I submit that that assertion has all the credibility of the Iraq dossier. It is gay marriage in all but name. Ministers cited the case in Brighton, where what has been called a "pink wedding list" is apparently being drawn up. Weddings are ceremonies that are associated with marriage—