MP’s bill would address ‘unintended but glaring inequality’

Tim Loughton MP gave a second reading of his bill in the House of Commons today. Photo: Parliament TV
Tim Loughton MP gave a second reading of his bill in the House of Commons today. Photo: Parliament TV

The MP for East Worthing and Shoreham has told the House of Commons that his private member’s bill, which he said would make family agreements ‘fit for the twenty first century’, had received ‘widespread support’.

Tim Loughton gave a second reading of his Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Bill on Friday, which called for civil partnerships to be extended to opposite sex couples.

He told members that the bill would correct ‘an unintended but glaring inequality’ which left same sex couples free to choose between a civil partnership or marriage but opposite sex couples with the ‘single option of conventional marriage’.

“That is not fair,” he said.

He said there were many reasons people did not want to marry – for example that some see it as an ‘innately religious’ or ‘patriarchal’ institution.

“These aren’t my views, but they certainly are the way that many people see it,” he said.

“A civil partnership is a way of showing commitment, getting those protections, without having to conform in a way that they don’t actually believe in.”

He said there were 3.2million cohabiting opposite sex couples. Around a third of children are born to unmarried parents who are living together, he said.

Mr Loughton said his bill would: “Bring relationships into the modern age and find new ways for the state to recognise committed relationships and give stability to children within them.”

More than 80,000 people have signed a petition in favour of the change, he added.

The government has agreed to a review of the laws around civil partnerships, rather than agreeing to include opposite sex couples in the law as Mr Loughton had proposed.

A further three proposals were also included in Mr Loughton’s bill.

One would see mothers’ names added onto marriage certificates.

The fact that only fathers’ names are included on the certificate was ‘an anachronism’ which was ‘well past it’s sell-by date and frankly an outrage’, he said.

The third proposal, which he described as ‘perhaps the most emotionally traumatic part’ of the bill, calls for a review into registering stillbirths that happen before 24 weeks.

As it stands, these babies are not recognised in the eye of the state. He said: “It adds insult to the unimaginable pain that the parents have already had to suffer.”

The final proposal would address ‘an anomaly in the law’ by giving coroners the power to investigate still births.

After the debate, Mr Loughton tweeted: “Very pleased my bill started its long journey through Parliament with support across the House of Commons and powerful speeches.

“I’m confident my bill will correct inequalities and irregularities in how we register love, marriage and stillbirths.”