Gender Recognition Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 10th February 2004.

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Photo of Lord Selsdon Lord Selsdon Conservative 5:45 pm, 10th February 2004

My Lords, I am a little worried because of the international requirements regarding birth certificates. For example, in the Middle East where I have been many times, one often has to produce one's birth certificate and that of one's parents. If someone changes his birth certificate, it has to be changed all the way back through the line.

I do not want to make a speech like that of the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, on such issues, but it is complicated to know who you are these days. Around the continent of Europe there are only two names. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, would be known as "Falconer, Charlie". His birth certificate would also be required—but he was probably not a Lord at that time—because a passport is not necessarily proof of identity. I have found that because the first part of my name is sometimes given as, "The right", I am known as "Monsieur Right The". The last bit of my title is "of Croydon", so I am called, "Croydon Of"—Of being a Norwegian Christian name.

We therefore need to think right the way through the history of the birth certificate. That applies inevitably to some hereditary Peers whose father at the time of their birth were not called "Lord this or that" because their grandfathers were alive. Once the chain is broken by a change in a birth certificate it could be deemed to be extremely fraudulent in certain countries.

I believe that such a clause should not be necessary because common decency should prevail. It is only when people follow indecent thoughts that decency does not prevail. I am therefore inclined to support my noble friend Lord Marlesford as the provision seems extraordinarily complicated. I wonder whether the Government have thought through the question of proof of identity and the requirement for the birth certificates of two or three generations.