Schedule 15 - Wills, administration of estates and family provision: Northern Ireland

Civil Partnership Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:15 am on 26th October 2004.

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Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Minister of State (Industry and the Regions and Deputy Minister for Women), Department of Trade and Industry 1:15 am, 26th October 2004

I beg to move amendment No. 174, in schedule 15, page 239, line 18, at end insert—

'( ) In paragraph (1)(ba) (application may be made by person living as husband or wife of the deceased), after ''paragraph (1A)'' insert ''or (1B)''.'.

Photo of Frank Cook Frank Cook Labour, Stockton North

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendments Nos. 175 to 179.

Government amendments Nos. 168 and 169.

Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Minister of State (Industry and the Regions and Deputy Minister for Women), Department of Trade and Industry

These are minor consequential amendments that ensure that references to couples living together as husband and wife are clearly understood to apply also to cohabiting same-sex couples. All the provisions being amended by the amendments also apply to spouses and have, therefore, been extended to civil partners in the Bill.

The amendments are being tabled because of consideration of the Civil Partnership Bill in the context of the judgment given on 21 June 2004 in the case of Ghaidan v. Mendoza. In that case, the House of Lords confirmed that tenancy legislation would be incompatible with the European convention on human rights if it treated a same-sex couple less favourably than an unmarried opposite-sex couple. The Lords ruled that, to prevent such an incompatibility, the courts should interpret the reference in that legislation to persons living together as husband and wife as applying equally to same-sex couples. That is an important ruling of potentially wide application in analogous circumstances.

The amendments are needed to preserve the effect of the Mendoza judgment in the new context created by the introduction of civil partnership. If we do not make these drafting changes, courts and legal advisors could be unsure of Parliament's intention—

It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman proceeded, pursuant to Sessional Order D [6 November 2003] and the Order of the Committee [19 October], as amended [21 October], to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that time.

Amendments proposed: No. 174, in schedule 15, page 239, line 18, at end insert—

'( ) In paragraph (1)(ba) (application may be made by person living as husband or wife of the deceased), after ''paragraph (1A)'' insert ''or (1B)''.'.

No. 175, in schedule 15, page 239, line 20, at end insert—

'( ) After paragraph (1A) insert—

''(1B) This paragraph applies to a person if for the whole of the period of two years ending immediately before the date when the deceased died the person was living—

(a) in the same household as the deceased, and

(b) as the civil partner of the deceased.' ''.

No. 176, in schedule 15, page 240, line 5, at end insert—

'In Article 5(2A) (application by person living as husband or wife of deceased: matters to which court is to have regard), in sub-paragraph (a), after ''wife'' insert ''or civil partner''.'.—[Jacqui Smith.]

Question put, That the amendments be made.

The Committee divided: Ayes 13, Noes 2.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put, That this schedule, as amended, be the Fifteenth schedule to the Bill and that clause 190 stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 11, Noes 2.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Schedule 15, as amended, agreed to and clause 190 ordered to stand part of the Bill.