Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on
My Lords, this order was laid before the House on
This draft order will amend Section 1 of the International Organisations Act 1968 to enable the United Kingdom to confer privileges and immunities on civil partners. Section 153(4)(bb) of the Companies Act 1985 provides that share ownership incentive schemes for spouses of employees and former employees of a company are not prohibited as a form of financial assistance for the purchase of shares under Section 151 of the Act. Section 743 of the Companies Act 1985 defines "employees' share scheme" for the purposes of the Act, as including share schemes for the benefit of the spouses of employees and former employees of a company. The draft order will amend Section 153(4)(bb) and Section 743 so that share incentive schemes apply equally to civil partners and spouses of employees, and former employees, of a company.
Section 79(7) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which extends to England and Wales only, was amended by Section 79(8) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, to provide for civil partnership to be included alongside the references to marriage. The draft order will further amend Section 79(7) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. This will enable the registrar general to advise an adopted person who wishes to form a civil partnership whether he and his proposed civil partner are within the prohibited degrees of relationship, as set out in Schedule 1 to the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 provides a new legal framework that will enable recognition of same-sex relationships through the new status of civil partner and the new legal relationship of civil partnership. Civil partners will now have legally binding rights and responsibilities in relation to each other and will have acquired a new status, which will affect how they are treated by third parties, including the state. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 aims to ensure parity of treatment between married couples and civil partners, except where there is an objective justification for a difference in treatment. The amendments made in this draft order will allow the United Kingdom to ensure that parity of treatment is accorded to civil partners.
I am satisfied that the order is compatible with the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. This order is important and I hope and trust, given the decisions of Parliament on the status of civil partnerships, that it is non-controversial and that it will receive the full support of your Lordships. I beg to move.
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation. We are getting into a field that is rather novel to me and I am not sure that I would understand all the ins and outs of it. However, one of the strange anomalies is that if two old sisters living together thought they would like to adopt a child, they would not be allowed to have a civil partnership under the civil partnership law. Could one of them adopt a child, or would it count against them that they were in a relationship within the prohibited degrees in the Civil Partnership Act?
My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for bringing forward the order and assure him that these Benches are delighted to accept it.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Duke and to the noble Baroness for their support, even with the question. The question about sisters arose during the substantive discussion on civil partnerships. Your Lordships' House and the other place decided that the definition of an appropriate civil partnership was fully and frankly debated and a conclusion was reached. That conclusion did not include sisters in that state of affairs. Should a sister want to adopt a child, the question would be about the suitability of the adoption in its own right, in those circumstances, and without bearing on the civil partnership status, which would not exist between them.
It was an intriguing, perhaps even a teasing, question and I hope that I have answered it as factually as I can. I commend the order to the House.