My Lords, I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Barker—my friend in many contexts, but not in that of sibling couples and civil partnerships—that I would be pleasantly astonished if my noble friend failed to give her the reassurances she sought. It is clear that the Government have no intention of extending civil partnerships in the way I would wish. I set out at length at Second Reading the unfairness and injustice sibling couples who are committed to each other in strong, stable and platonic associations have endured for far too long because they are denied civil partnerships. I will not repeat the points I made then. I should be very interested to hear what my noble friend has to say, but I do not expect the pleasant surprise I wish for.
I have not tabled amendments to this important Bill that would cause proceedings on it to be extended. I simply say this to the Government, assuming that I am right: committed, platonic sibling couples, some of whom have shared their lives for 50 years and more, look on with astonishment and anger as a political party that ought to value the family units they have created together does nothing to relieve them from the constant anxieties they endure in the absence of joint legal rights.