My position on this issue is clear: I voted in support of same-sex marriage in England and Wales and, like the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister, I hope that this can be extended to Northern Ireland in future. I believe marriage should be a common right across the UK. However, the fundamental position remains that same-sex marriage is a devolved issue in Northern Ireland.
If my husband and I stick to our plans to retire one day to his home town in Northern Ireland, upon my death, my better half would lose a husband in every sense of the word. The registry confirms that no reference to the marriage will be included on any certificate issued and my husband would be recorded simply as a surviving civil partner—years of marriage wiped out by the stroke of a pen. Does the Minister agree that, if the Democratic Unionist party is so keen on having no regulatory divergence from the UK, this is a good place to start?
I very much sympathise with this issue and share the frustration encapsulated in the letter to which the hon. Gentleman refers. However, this is not the time to be unpicking the devolution settlement on this issue. It is, rightly, an issue for a future Executive to return to and look at. We hope that the Executive can be brought back to do that and deal with many other important issues.
I can certainly confirm that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the Department have regular contact with Church leaders. As I said, it is an important issue, but it really is an issue for a future devolved Government to look at.