If we look at this across the board, we see not only this inequity, but others. We need to look at such things in more detail to make sure that men and women—I include men in this—are equal because there are inequalities for both genders and we need to sort this out.
I agree that we need to look at the cost and make sure that any change is not made at huge cost to the taxpayer, so I welcome the way in which it has been proposed. That is so important, as is not losing a vulnerable certificate that means so much to so many people.
I will move on to the second part of my speech, which is on the reform of civil partnerships. I welcome the Minister’s words about more work being carried out. We are aware that civil partnerships were originally intended not as an alternative to marriage, but to provide a legal recognition of such relationships and access to the same legal rights. We need to make sure that, if we make any change in legislation to include heterosexual relationships in civil partnerships, we get it right.
If we look at the data on what is happening with civil partnerships, we find that almost half the people entering civil partnerships are now aged 50 or above, compared with 19% in 2013, so the way people perceive civil partnerships has changed. The average age of women entering civil partnerships is now higher than that of men, so we need to look at what we are trying to do and what gap we are trying to fill. The uptake of civil partnerships has now decreased dramatically. According to the data I have, approximately 6,000 women and 9,000 men entered civil partnerships in 2006, but the numbers of both types of civil partnerships are now down to three figures. We must make sure that we are actually providing the right mechanism for people to cement their relationships and the security they are looking for in the future. With a population of 84,000, there is a good cohort of people on the Isle of Man, where civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples are available, to look at to see what lessons can be learned, as well as what works and what does not work.
I thank the Minister for looking at this in more detail. We need to make sure we get right any changes we make. I know people will say that we are not rushing into this, but we do need to make sure that we are providing the right mechanism for the right people at the right time.