Clause 15 - Orders and Regulations

Part of Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:55 am on 12 March 2013.

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Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Shadow Minister (Equalities) 8:55, 12 March 2013

Welcome to the final day of Committee, Mr Streeter. I oppose the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate. I came to the matter with an open mind, and he and I had a little conversation about the amendment yesterday, so I was thinking about what he might argue and what my response might be. Having listened to the argument he made this morning, I am afraid he has not persuaded me of the reason behind what he wants to achieve.

I would like to pick up two or three issues that the hon. Gentleman raised. Some of the issues which he suggested might need detailed scrutiny relate to amendments that I tabled, either alone or with my hon. Friends, and which relate, for example, to the Church in Wales, or to the most technically complex part of this Bill, on pension rights. Ministers have assured us that they will come back with detailed proposals on Report. I have absolutely no reason to doubt their good intentions and the assurances that they have given us. When we know the outcome of those discussions and if new amendments are tabled on Report, there will be an opportunity for the whole House to scrutinise and debate these aspects of the Bill. I think that that will afford us the opportunity that we need.

The hon. Gentleman suggested that the super-affirmative procedure is appropriate where there are issues of particular complexity, or where they are particularly controversial. I remind him that the controversy really exists only in the Conservative party. In all other parties, and indeed the country as a whole, there is a pretty strong majority in favour of proceeding with the same-sex marriage provisions in the Bill, so his proposed measure would very much be interpreted as putting unnecessary barriers into the process of getting this legislation to the statute book. I remind him, too, that there was some very good input from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which I found extremely helpful in relation to the more complex aspects of the Bill.

It is not the case that there has been no scrutiny other than in this Committee; indeed, the complexities of the Bill have been widely debated and considered. With regret—I accept the hon. Gentleman’s good intentions; we discussed the amendment yesterday and what he sought to achieve—I do not see the need for this procedure in relation to the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman pushes it to the vote I shall oppose the amendment, and I suggest that other members of the Committee do likewise.