I wish to update the House on the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020 and Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2022.
The government consulted within the House and this statement is to ensure that the House is aware of the circumstances of the Order's approval, and to set out the UK Government's approach in bringing forward the Order.
The Order was laid on 16 November and considered by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. The motion for approval was agreed at the end of the day’s business on 5 January 2022, having been tabled to the Order Paper just before the rise of the House for the Christmas recess.
Due to an administrative error in the orders tabled by the Government, which was not picked up by the House of Commons authorities, the Order was listed for decision under Standing Order No. 118(6) even though the previously planned Delegated Legislation Committee debate had been postponed until early 2022. The Order therefore appeared on the Order Paper ahead of its debate in Committee, and was agreed by the House without objection on Wednesday 5 January. The debate in the House of Lords took place as normal on 14 December 2021.
The Secretary of State for Scotland is due to make this Order next week.
The aim of this Order is to make consequential amendments to legislation in view of the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020. This legislation was brought forward by the Scottish Government and introduces opposite sex civil partnerships to Scotland. The changes made through the Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020 reflect that civil partnerships in Scotland are no longer just an option for same sex relationships and they are now open for opposite sex relationships too.
The Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2020 and Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2022 amends the Equality Act 2010 to add further protection for individuals, such as religious and belief celebrants, who do not wish to take part in the registration of mixed sex civil partnership. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 is also amended to reflect that because opposite sex civil partnership is now recognised, it is possible for civil partners to apply for gender recognition and stay in the civil partnership.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 is also amended to ensure equal treatment for children of marriages, and children of civil partnerships, in cases of assisted reproduction. The Order also makes changes to legislation concerning the registration overseas, through UK consular officials and armed forces, of marriages and civil partnerships.
The Order is made under the Scotland Act 1998, and extends across the United Kingdom, although some provisions only extend to certain parts of the UK. It demonstrates devolution in action, and the UK Government is pleased to support the Scottish Government introduce opposite sex civil partnerships to Scotland.