July 19, 2018

Statement from ECP Chair, Martin Loat – Private Members Bill in Committee.

On Wednesday July 18th, Tim Loughton, MP, took his Private Members Bill through the committee stage of its passing. ECP Chair, Martin Loat, has provided a statement on what happened and what our next steps are.

Government commits to shorten its (unnecessary) research into civil partnerships.
Minister responds to pressure following Supreme Court ruling.
We’re making progress in our campaign to get the Government to change the law, following the Supreme Court ruling that it should (two different things !)
Three weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that it’s illegal for the Government not to allow civil partnerships for all couples, the Government has made its first move.
MP Tim Loughton’s private members bill that (among other things) seeks to allow civil partnerships for all, reached the “committee stage” in its passage through Parliament this week. In this meeting, Victoria Atkins, the  Government minister responding, publicly stated for the first time that her boss, Penny Mordaunt, the Minister for Women and Equalities, has instructed that government research into demand for and attitudes into civil partnerships be concluded “by the end of this year”.
This is an improvement on the ridiculous three-year process they had announced when Tim’s bill was last aired in Parliament.
The ECP campaign would have liked to see this unnecessary and face-saving “research and consultation” process scrapped altogether and the law changed immediately. This is because opening up CPs to all is the only realistic option for achieving equality, so not much more debate is needed!
But we have to be pragmatic and realise that ministers don’t like to be seen making U-turns! And Tim Loughton’s bill is in progress and – for now at least – probably the best practical vehicle to get the law change that we want through Parliament.
All eyes will now be on the next  “Report stage” of the Bill  (probably on 26 October)
by which time we expect the Government to firm up its intentions on when and how, with its own research largely or completely concluded. This will enable certain amendments to be made to the Bill to facilitate a law change (as opposed to merely a consultation).
Over the summer your ECP campaign team will be keeping the pressure up and seeking a face to face meeting with Penny Mordaunt MP. We will make clear how much support there is for equal civil partnerships and that the Government is on “borrowed time” now that the Supreme Court has ruled so strongly.
But we will demand positive action and intent after the summer break and in the run up to 26 October. We may well be asking supporters to get involved further in the campaign come the Autumn.
And, of course, you can still send a postcard to Penny Mordaunt yourself to let her know that you are glad the research time will be shorter but it is still not necessary as equality for all is the only option.
Martin Loat
Chair, Equal Civil Partnerships campaign