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Third Reading

Part of Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 15th July 2013.

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Photo of Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Labour 4:00 pm, 15th July 2013

Earlier today in your Lordships’ House, there was a reference to grandchildren being able to teach those of us who are grandparents about information technology. I have also found through listening to children out in the country that, unlike some of us from our generation, we are not actually changing what is happening in the country, we are recognising it. As a 12 year-old said to me, “What is the problem with that? Two people love each other”. Our grandchildren’s generation, and many of our children’s generation, live in what the Japanese call the house of tomorrow. I thank all my colleagues around the House who have been involved in steering the Bill through, but in particular the Minister, who, if she does not get George Clooney, perhaps could be on her way to sainthood because of the patience she has shown during the passage of the Bill.

My only worry comes from my experience in the education service, where stories appear which say that a school is going to ban Christmas or going to do this or that. I am proud of this House for the trust it is putting in trustees, governors, local vicars, parents, communities and teachers through the passage of the Bill and make a plea to all concerned for when the stories start appearing, as they will. Fortunately, in August, which is known as the funny month, most schools are not sitting—with the exception, I believe, of those in Scotland—so the press stories will not start just yet. However, my plea to anybody who reads a critical story connected with the passage of the Bill, such as one saying, “We told you so” or that it is not working, is to remember the story of the local vicar in Lancashire who was castigated in the press for saying that you could not put “gran” on a monument in the churchyard because it was not serious enough. That turned out not to be true and the poor man spent the rest of his clergyman’s life being castigated for something he had never done. When the stories start, as they will, please wait to hear the outcome of the due process and whether somebody is found guilty of something by the governors through appeals and the disciplinary procedure. Do not get caught out by the knee-jerk reaction that the media will try to create in certain circumstances. Let us make certain that this Bill is a success and that this House has done a good thing. Yes, there are people who do not want change—there are always people, of course, who do not want change—but we have recognised change and we should be proud of it.