Increased support for marriage and civil partnerships

Part of Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 17th June 2020.

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Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice 6:30 pm, 17th June 2020

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his continuing interest in, support of and commitment to issues relating to the family. They are values and views that he and I share. I take the view that this legislation is not the vehicle to deliver the sort of services and support that he and I want to see. This is very much about the end of the process, as opposed to what he and I think needs to be done well before that, to support families to help themselves, to enrich family life and to ensure that every proper assistance is given to couples who perhaps do not have the benefit of wise advice from parents or other support circles and might be dealing with the problems and challenges of every relationship alone, and who, frankly, could benefit from the wherewithal and the support that I know he believes in so passionately.

For that reason, I take what I would regard as a more direct and straightforward approach. I make no apology for that. I think it is important to be direct about these issues and not to conflate legislative process with policy progress. My commitment to my hon. Friend and to all others who are legitimately concerned about these issues is that, as a Government, we will work harder to co-ordinate, to bring together the strands of policy that sit with various Departments and to ensure that we have a family policy that is fit for the 2020s, in the way that he wants to see. I look forward to that continuing dialogue with him.

As I was saying, the Bill does not come at the wrong time, because its current stage is the culmination of a lengthy process that was delayed by a general election and a new Parliament. Its timing has nothing to do with the current covid-19 emergency. The Bill’s reforms will not come into force on Royal Assent, because time needs to be allowed for careful implementation. At this early stage, we are working towards an indicative timetable of implementation in autumn 2021. As I have said, the Bill will deliver much-needed reform in respect of which there is clear, strong and broad consensus. I again thank all right hon. and hon. Members for their contributions. I commend the Bill to the House.