Clause 6 - Types of pre-registration procedure

Part of Civil Partnership Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 21st October 2004.

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Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 3:45 pm, 21st October 2004

I seek clarification in the opposite direction from the hon. Member for Christchurch. Many of us will have dealt with immigration cases involving non-British nationals wanting to marry British nationals and seeking entry. We can all make our own judgments about how the immigration authorities determine who is or is not a proper person. Can the Minister clarify the procedure whereby a homosexual couple could persuade the immigration authorities that they have a bona fide reason for one of them who is not a UK citizen to contract a civil partnership?

Reading the Bill as it stands—and I have been drafting an amendment, which may or may not be necessary, on exactly this issue—the best comparison that I can make is the fiancé visa for heterosexual couples. That gives permission to enter the country with a view to marrying a British national, subject to a time limit—usually a booked marriage date—as a condition. Am I to interpret that such a requirement would also be available to same-sex couples? Or, as in the amendment that I have been drafting, would there need to be an express direction in the Bill to allow that? The status of same-sex couples in such a situation is not clear.