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 acknowledge that they have put their case strongly.

As the Bill leaves the House, it is complete and comprehensive, wide-ranging and detailed. It is carefully drafted and its clauses are tightly interwoven.

It is indeed ground-breaking, in that it is the first Bill of its kind to include comprehensive international recognition provisions that could be used as a template by other countries in the years to come. The Bill also provides equality in pension rights.

This is a Bill to be proud of and this House has done an excellent job in salvaging it from the unfortunate state in which it arrived here. It is perhaps no surprise that it has received massive support from the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities. What is truly heartening, however, is the level of support that has come from the population at large—from trade unions, religious groups, legal experts, groups such as Age Concern and Carers UK, and the hundreds of individuals who have written to express their delight that, at last, an important injustice is being addressed.

Many same-sex couples will be very keen to avail themselves of the Bill's provisions, once they come into effect. It is expected that the Act will take effect roughly a year after Royal Assent, to enable the necessary secondary legislation to be introduced and other operational changes to be made. I have no doubt that many people will want to take advantage of its provisions at that point. Many of us who are married know well how our lives have been enriched beyond measure by the support of our husbands and wives. Indeed, our achievements are all the greater and all the more enjoyable because we have someone to share them with. Our lesbian and gay family members, colleagues and friends deserve an equivalent chance, and they deserve the current legal injustices to be put right. The Civil Partnership Bill remedies those injustices and provides that opportunity, and I commend it to the House.