One of the most ambitious and far-reaching Private Members’ Bill ever in Parliament is about to become law. The ‘Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill’ returns to the House of Commons for the last time on Friday March 15th for approval of technical amendments from the Lords, which are expected to be passed as a formality. Normally Private Member’s Bills only contain one simple change to the law involving one department of Government. In this case there are 4 main proposals set to become law which have had to secure the buy-in of no fewer than 4 Government departments and Secretaries of State.
As soon as it receives Royal Assent the main four changes enshrined in the Bill will become law. I first introduced this Bill on 19th July 2017 and after a turbulent time in both Houses of Parliament, it has come through intact with all main planks of policy change set to become law benefitting thousands of couples getting hitched, and parents of stillborn children.
The Bill does the following:
- To provide that opposite sex couples may enter into a civil partnership
- To make provision about the registration of the names of the mother of each party to a marriage or civil partnership (mother’s names have been absent from wedding certificates since 1837!)
- To make provision about the registration of stillborn deaths
- To give coroners the power to investigate stillborn deaths
During its stages in the Commons, the Government had originally only agreed to commit to a ‘review’ of changing the law to enable opposite couples to enter into a civil partnership but after some high stakes last minute brinksmanship I amended my own Bill to commit Government to change the law - bring in the new entitlement within 6 months. That was tweaked in the House of Lords to make civil partnerships available before the end of 2019. The Bill was almost scuppered in the Lords with a raft of amendments which, if added, would have made the Bill unworkable and subject to rejection when it returned to the Commons. With the skilful help of Baroness Hodgson of Abinger who steered the Bill through the Lords, those amendments were defeated.
Please see all news about the Bill in the links below!