Schedule 3 - Interpretation of legislation

Part of Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 7 March 2013.

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Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2:15, 7 March 2013

I thank my hon. Friend for his questions. The simple answer is that the Government’s approach is entirely consistent with the Civil Partnership Act 2004, in which many of these issues are addressed in precisely the same way. The approach under the 2004 Act was that couples should decide what they call themselves, whether that is a husband, wife, missus, the  other half or whatever. It is not for the Government to determine that, and these proposals does not change that position.

The terms set out in the Bill are reasonably specific. My hon. Friend referred to part 2 of schedule 3, which deals with the interpretation of future England and Wales legislation following the Bill’s enactment. It provides very specifically for gender-specific terms to have a gender-specific effect in the precisely the same way as now.

My hon. Friend asked how the provision affects parenthood. I have just received a helpful reminder that the Bill makes specific textual amendments to the 2008 Act. However, a person who is not a child’s biological parent is treated in law as the child’s parent only in certain circumstances: if a woman is in a civil partnership at the time of IVF in a clinic. Indeed, her civil partner can be treated as the child’s parent unless she did not consent to the treatment. That will also apply under the Bill to same-sex married couples.

The key point is that the Bill is entirely consistent with that taken in the Civil Partnerships Act, and that is the approach that the Government have taken.