Civil Partnership Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:15 am on 21st October 2004.

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Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 9:15 am, 21st October 2004

My hon. Friend has had the opportunity to table a lot of amendments, and I do not think that he has tabled any. [Interruption.]

Perhaps he has tabled one or two, and if so, he will have the opportunity to debate them.

In the context of what the Minister said, no serious consideration was given in the other place to applying the same principles to opposite-sex cohabitation as apply to same-sex cohabitation. That principle was not debated seriously in the other place, which was more preoccupied with the idea of extending the provisions to people who are partners in an asexual relationship, such as siblings.

I have tabled a series of amendments relating to that part of the Bill, and I would have thought that it was reasonable to consider them, because more than 4 million people in England and Wales live in cohabiting relationships, representing about 8 per cent. of the population. Half those cohabiting couples are in the 20 to 34 age group. I make that point with my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) very much in mind, as he is as keen as I am to ensure that Conservative Members propose arguments that are relevant to the interests of that group. By contrast with that statistic, there are only 78,522 cohabiting same-sex couples. If one considers the comparison between the numbers in one group and the numbers in the other—