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That would probably be stretching out of order, but I appreciate that my hon. Friend took up the issue before I did. It is a cause with which I have some sympathy, and there have been measures in the other place for a Bill on that topic. This legislation is about couples and relationships and recognition and protections that are not available. The matters to which he refers, which relate particularly to siblings who are living together and are entirely dependent on each other, are largely financial ones, and that should be addressed in financial legislation. I would absolutely support him if that were to happen in the future.
I just want to pay some tributes, because this might not have happened today. If this debate had not happened before the end of this Parliament, the necessary regulations that form part of the 2019 Act, which received Royal Assent back on
I have constantly stated that many register offices around the country have been taking provisional bookings for civil partnerships, including on the very last day of this year. A lot is hinging on this, and many people will be watching these proceedings and the news that comes out. The issue was that, in order for civil partnerships to take place by the end of this year, the regulations had to be laid and then there is a minimum of 28 days—it is not really a cooling-off period—between a couple registering their interest in a civil partnership before it is able to be conducted. That meant that if the regulations had not been approved before
It is something of an honour that this will be the last piece of debatable business in this Parliament and the last debatable business that you will oversee, Mr Speaker. You have been a big supporter of this change, although you would never admit it and show any degree of partiality, but I know, unofficially, that you have got behind this change, which has been of great help and comfort to people outside this House who see this as an obvious equality measure that should have happened some time ago.
The process has been expedited, but I just have a few brief questions for the Minister. First, will she confirm—I think she already has—that the fact that we are debating this well before
I fully appreciate that this measure is not the end of the story; this enables new opposite-sex couples to engage in a new civil partnership and there is much work still to be done on the conversion for those who are already married, just as there was a conversion the other way round in respect of civil partnerships for same-sex couples. Looking through the regulations, which are detailed and technical, I appreciate the work that has gone into everything from gender recognition to the status of children, the warm home discount and digital switchover. All that legislation, extraordinarily, has to be considered in these regulations in order to get this right. Will the Minister therefore clarify the status of existing overseas or ex-England opposite-sex civil partnerships?
Will the Minister also issue guidance as soon as possible to registrars around the country that they should be open for business from
Finally, let me say that this is just but one part of my Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration etc) Act 2019. There are three other parts to it. I raised the issue of mothers’ names on marriage certificates with the Second Church Estates Commissioner, which is yet to be resolved by formal regulations. The second issue is about the Secretary of State giving the go-ahead for coroners to have the power to investigate stillbirths. The last issue is the review of sub-24-week stillbirths. They are all important parts of my multifaceted Act that still require further regulations. I appreciate that today we are dealing purely with the civil partnerships part of it, but it would be helpful if the Minister gave some indication that work is ongoing on those other important parts of this Act.
Once again, may I thank the Minister in particular for expediting these measures today, just in the nick of time? For many hundreds of couples up and down the country waiting on this, it is a really important and happy development.