Schedule 28 — Consequential amendments: Scotland

Part of Orders of the Day — Civil Partnerships Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:46 pm on 9th November 2004.

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Photo of Ann Widdecombe Ann Widdecombe Conservative, Maidstone and The Weald 6:46 pm, 9th November 2004

I am grateful to the Minister for that statement.

I turn to the merits of the Bill, on which I asked myself the following questions. If the Bill were not to be passed tonight, would it still be the case that two people could choose, of their own free will, to form a homosexual relationship? Of course it would. Would they be able to choose to set up a household and enter into a long-term partnership? They would. However, if the Bill is passed tonight, will marriage still be unique? The answer is no, because the Bill will give rights and privileges that at the moment are unique to marriage and not enjoyed by any other sector of the population to one particular group other than the married. That is what the Bill will do. It will destroy the uniqueness that marriage holds at present.

As I said on Second Reading, I am the first to recognise that the present system results in unkindnesses—never mind injustices—that have adverse impacts on homosexual relationships. However, I also said that that is not unique to homosexual relationships. That was what the amendments tabled by my hon. Friends today sought to address. They sought to point out that some things are wrong, but they are not uniquely wrong for homosexual relationships. I would have preferred for us to address those injustices for all groups affected—or as many as possible—through the necessary and relevant legislation, such as the Finance Bill, rather than set up a situation in which no discernible difference exists between a civil marriage and a civil partnership. It was recognised by both sides of the argument tonight that that is what this Bill will do and that is why it is so wrong.