Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc.) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:43 pm on 2nd February 2018.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham 12:43 pm, 2nd February 2018

With the leave of the House, I would like to express my thanks to all Members in all parts of the House for such strong support for all parts of this Bill. It was almost unanimous but certainly very strong support.

Labour Members often reduce Conservative Members to tears, but in the case of Mrs Hodgson, it was absolutely for all the right reasons. Her speech alone made such a strong case that nobody else need have spoken on why the law on stillbirth needs to be changed. It was brave, powerful and the most stark evidence that her daughter, Lucy, was born and did exist and that the state needs to acknowledge it. Nothing more need be said.

If this debate had been a BBC or Channel 4 hard-hitting documentary, at the end of it the announcer would have said, “If you have been affected by issues in this programme, here is a hotline or website to consult.” That should apply to this debate, because it has touched on some very hard-hitting and emotional issues. I am afraid that I do not have a hotline number or a website for hon. Members to consult, but it certainly has had a dramatic effect on all those here today. I do not want to be more political than that, given the mood of the House. This debate has shown the House at its best.

This is something that needs to be done. All parties have made common cause. It is also the modern thing to do. As my hon. Friend Nigel Huddleston said, attitudes have changed, and the law now needs to be changed to catch up. I do not care what we call the Bill. My hon. Friend Will Quince called it a smorgasbord, and I referred to it as the hatch, match and dispatch Bill, but my hon. Friend Maggie Throup won the award: the loved ones Bill. That sums up the common thread. The Bill presses a lot of buttons. Sandy Martin even pressed the button of paying more tax as a result of his civil partnership. It is also important for social history.

For all those reasons, I welcome the comments of my hon. Friend the Minister from the Dispatch Box. The Bill is not as forceful in its terminology as it could be, but I am sure we can work on that in Committee. I appreciate her commitment that the review can happen now—that there will be no delay—and I appreciate the sense of urgency and the commitment to addressing the issue, as well as the presumption that we will need to look at how the law can change. She has heard that, for most people here, abolishing civil partnerships is not an option, for very good reasons.

The Minister will also have heard the very emotional contributions on the stillbirth measures, with which it was clear she had a deal of sympathy, and the iniquity of the marriage certificates issue. I have in my hand a piece of paper: a copy of my marriage certificate. To add insult to injury, my father signed it twice, because he also married us—so he got to sign as the clerk in holy orders as well—whereas my mother only signed as a witness. It includes a description of my father’s and father-in-law’s occupations, but there are no details about my mother or mother-in-law. It is an important piece of social history that we are missing out on as well, and that should not be underestimated.

This is just the right thing to do. I apologise for how long and technical my speech and the contributions have been, but these are worthy measures, as the quality of the contributions have underlined. It has shown the House at its best, and I hope that the Government will now make these well-supported measures a reality. I will work constructively with them to bring that about.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time; to stand committed to a Public Bill Committee (Standing Order No. 63).