We support the Bill very much. We had some concerns about the powers that the Lord Chancellor would have in relation to clause 6, but given that they are so limited in scope, we do not propose to object to them. However, we do not wish it go unnoticed that we have concerns about Ministers having—I will not call them Henry VIII powers in relation to divorce proceedings—draconian powers in pushing forward legislation that would remain as primary legislation. I will leave it at that. We do not oppose this clause, but I wish to put on record that we have wider concerns about Ministers’ powers.
I was going to say a few words on this clause, so I am grateful to have the chance to respond to the debate. The hon. Gentleman makes a perfectly fair point about the delegated powers. We got the idea from the Civil Partnership Act 2004, which was introduced by the hon. Gentleman’s party. We are reflecting the changes in that Act in the Bill. The powers we are conferring on the Lord Chancellor were exercised by the High Court with the introduction of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. In 2004, when the legislation was updated, it was decided that the power was better vested in the Lord Chancellor for civil partnerships. We are now catching up across the broader spectrum of proceedings with that decision to move the power from the High Court to the Lord Chancellor. I can justify the devolved powers in question even to myself, and I can even call them Henry VIII powers.
On a point of order, Mr McCabe. It is customary to give a lengthy thank you to all those who have participated in the Bill. I fear I would end up making a speech longer than any other speech if I tried to do so, but I thank all Members for their contributions, even if they have been silent contributions of good will emanating towards us. That is good enough for me.
More importantly, I thank all the officials who have worked hard on the Bill for many months. They may even be disappointed that we have taken only 47 minutes to progress it through Committee. I will put them at their ease, because if it is only 47 minutes, it means there is far less chance for me to muck it up at any stage. There will be a sigh of relief at the Ministry of Justice, I suspect, that I have been hidden from scrutiny by taking a bit less time. I thank all my officials and I thank you, Mr McCabe, for chairing the Committee so adeptly. You have facilitated our rocket-powered canal boat moving down the great canal of British history through one more set of locks.