TIM LOUGHTON: Civil partnerships, marriages and deaths
Thank you to all the constituents and several hundred others from around the country who sent me ideas for the subject of my private member's bill, having come up in the House of Commons ballot for the first time in 20 years.
I have now finalised my bill’s title and it was presented in the Commons yesterday. It will be the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill
It will be a bill to provide that opposite sex couples may enter a civil partnership; to make provision about the registration of the names of the mother of each party to a marriage or civil partnership; to make provision about the registration of stillborn deaths; to give coroners the power to investigate stillborn deaths; and for connected purposes.
Essentially I am being rather greedy and I am trying to squeeze several deserving causes I have campaigned on into one bill on the basis that it has taken 20 years to be given the chance at all of actually changing legislation in this way, and I probably won’t get the chance again. I have come up with the fifth bill in a ballot of 20 which usually has a fair chance of becoming law if a member can secure Government support.
I have tried several times to extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples having strongly supported the long overdue change in 2004 to recognise same sex partnerships in the eyes of the law. There are 2.9 million co-habiting couples in the UK, around half with children, who for a variety of reasons choose not to get married and often only find out to late that there is no such thing as a common law spouse and they have no protection under the law. A recent High Court case urged the Government to resolve this anomaly and my bill would do that.
I have also campaigned on the injustice of late term stillbirths based on local tragic case where a child who is stillborn and whose mother has gone through all the tribulations of pregnancy and giving birth, is not recognised in the eyes of the state unless born over 24 weeks.
With some babies surviving now as early as 22 weeks this can only add to the grief of parents and many charities support this change. We have a poor record on stillbirths generally in the UK and coroners have asked for the power to investigate late term stillbirths to understand the underlying causes, so again this measure in my bill would help to address this problem.
Finally I am seeking to ensure that a mother’s details can be included on marriage certificates rather than just the father’s now we are in the 21st century.
Again I hope these are all measures which will attract widespread and cross-party support and my 20-year wait will not have been in vain.
• If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at [email protected]
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