Clause 7 - Place of registration

Part of Civil Partnership Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 21st October 2004.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Conservative, Buckingham 4:00 pm, 21st October 2004

I support amendments Nos. 18, 19, 20 and 15. My hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton has argued for clarification of language and of interpretation. I simply rest the case on the overall argument of principle for which there is notable support in the Committee. That is the principle that there should not be a decree by the state; there should be scope for local discretion under the terms of the Bill. It was put eloquently on Second Reading in the other place by the Bishop of Oxford:

''it infringes the proper freedom of religious authorities to control such premises. As a matter of principle, it is for those authorities and not for the state to decide whether or not their premises should be available to be used for registration purposes''.—[Official Report, House of Lords, 22 April 2004; Vol. 660, c. 399.]

He is absolutely right. These amendments reflect precisely the same conviction, and I support all of them.