Clause 3 - Formation of civil partnership by registration

Part of Civil Partnership Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 21st October 2004.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Conservative, Buckingham 11:15 am, 21st October 2004

We observed a brief and good-natured competition between my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton and the hon. Member for Rhondda, each praying in aid his amendment. On this occasion, I am in the peculiar position of arguing the case for a third way. I strongly support the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend, but I also strongly support that of the hon. Gentleman. Whether legally it is possible to go for both—and I think that it is, as they relate to different parts of the clause—I do not know; I very much hope that it is. Doubtless we shall be advised on that when we press for a Division. However, the essential difference between the amendments and the amendment that we debated earlier is that those in this grouping do not erect a hurdle; rather, they provide an opportunity.

A solemn declaration of commitment, and some sort of prescription as to the form of it, is desirable. I shall probably cause the least surprise of anyone who has spoken this morning when I say that I am not able to give my support to the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch, precisely because it is centrally an obstacle. It is, in my terms, repressive and, if I may say so, deeply centralising.