Schedule 28 — Consequential amendments: Scotland

Part of Orders of the Day — Civil Partnerships Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:01 pm on 9th November 2004.

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Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Minister of State (Industry and the Regions and Deputy Minister for Women), Department of Trade and Industry 6:01 pm, 9th November 2004

I certainly would not, and I commend the hon. Gentleman for his remarks.

The fact that we have introduced the Bill and will, I hope, pass it into legislation, sends a very important message about the respect in which we, as a country and as individuals, hold the many people in this country who are in long-term same-sex relationships. I have always argued that the Bill is not only about dealing with the considerable day-to-day practical and legal difficulties involved in those relationships, but is a manifestation of the respect and dignity that we give to them.

This new legal relationship comes with both rights and responsibilities, and the Bill sends out a clear message about the importance of stable and committed relationships. It will enshrine in law a comprehensive structure through which same-sex couples can form a civil partnership and make provision for organising their joint lives together.

Most of the time, our debates on the Bill have shown the House at its best. I thank all hon. Members who have spoken with intelligence, thoughtfulness and temperance. I believe that we have listened to hon. Members' concerns and, when appropriate, sought to amend the Bill to tackle them. On the whole, the process has been constructive, due to various hon. Members' contributions. I express my gratitude to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland for her contribution and the important issues that she has tackled, including those that relate to Scotland. I assure hon. Members that she has a close and intimate knowledge of Scottish succession legislation. I put on record my appreciation of the work in another place of Baroness Scotland, Baroness Hollis, Baroness Amos, Baroness Crawley, Lord Filkin and Lord Evans of Temple Guiting.

I thank hon. Members of all parties who have made an important contribution to the scrutiny of the Bill. The mature and constructive approach of Mr. Duncan—perhaps I should call him Mr. December—is a credit to him and, I hope, to his party. The hon. Gentleman was unfortunately not in his place when the Government amendment on religious premises was agreed earlier. It is therefore worth while to put on record again that it arose from discussions that he in particular prompted.

I pay tribute to Mr. Bercow, who has on every occasion actively supported the Government's commitment to reject amendments that would have rendered the Bill unworkable. He has been diligent in his attendance and his contributions.

Mr. Carmichael made thoughtful contributions and has played an important role in consideration of the Bill.

I want to place on record my appreciation of all my hon. Friends who served on the Committee and perhaps especially of my hon. Friends the Members for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) and for Wallasey, who have ensured an informed and passionate debate inside and outside the Chamber. They brought all the force of their argument to bear in the discussions, which led to a Government amendment that was agreed today and will ensure fair and equitable pensions treatment for civil partners.

I thank our Committee Chairmen for the excellent way in which they chaired our proceedings, the parliamentary officials who served during the Bill's passage and the Whip, my hon. Friend Mr. Watson, who played an important role in ensuring that we kept to order.