Updated Sunday evening
The amendment passed by the House of Lords earlier this week affects two sections of the Civil Partnership Act 2004. One of these sections, 6A, was itself an amendment to the Act, and came in the Civil Partnership (Amendments to Registration Provisions) Order 2005. That order also amended Section 6 itself.
Below the fold is the full text of sections 6 and 6A, as previously amended, and marked up with Lord Alli’s amendments:
(1) The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is amended as follows.
(2) Omit section 6(1)(b) and section 6(2).
(3) In section 6A, after subsection (2), insert—
“( ) Regulations under this section may provide that premises approved for the registration of civil partnerships may differ from those premises approved for the registration of civil marriages.”
(4) In section 6A, after subsection (3), insert—
“( ) For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.”
The main, if not the only, other piece of legislation that would need to be revised to implement this change is The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005.
Clause 11 of The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005 which reads as follows, will not be amended, however.
(1) Any proceedings conducted on approved premises shall not be religious in nature.
(2) In particular, the proceedings shall not—
(a) include extracts from an authorised religious marriage service or from sacred religious texts;
(b) be led by a minister of religion or other religious leader;
(c) involve a religious ritual or series of rituals;
(d) include hymns or other religious chants; or,
(e) include any form of worship.
3) But the proceedings may include readings, songs, or music that contain an incidental reference to a god or deity in an essentially non-religious context.
4) For this purpose any material used by way of introduction to, in any interval between parts of, or by way of conclusion to the proceedings shall be treated as forming part of the proceedings.
Civil Partnership Act 2004 as amended
Section 6 Place of registration
(1) The place at which two people may register as civil partners of each other—
(a) must be in England or Wales,
(b) must not be in religious premises, and
(c) must be specified in the notices, or notice, of proposed civil partnership required by this Chapter.
(2) “Religious premises” means premises which—
(a) are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or
(b) have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.
(3) Subsections (3A) and (3B) apply in the case of registration under the standard procedure (including that procedure modified as mentioned in section 5).
(3A) The place must be—
(a) on approved premises, or
(b) in a register office.
(3B) If it is in a register office, the place must be open to any person wishing to attend the registration.
(3C) In this Chapter “register office” means a register office provided under section 10 of the Registration Service Act 1953.
Section 6A Power to approve premises
(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer may by regulations make provision for and in connection with the approval by registration authorities of premises for the purposes of section 6(3A)(a).
(2) The matters dealt with by regulations may include—
(a) the kind of premises in respect of which approvals may be granted;
(b) the procedure to be followed in relation to applications for approval;
(c) the considerations to be taken into account by a registration authority in determining whether to approve any premises;
(d) the duration and renewal of approvals;
(e) the conditions that must or may be imposed by a registration authority on granting or renewing an approval;
(f) the determination and charging by registration authorities of fees in respect of applications for the approval of premises and in respect of the renewal of approvals;
(g) the circumstances in which a registration authority must or may revoke an approval;
(h) the review of any decision to refuse an approval or the renewal of an approval, to impose conditions on granting or renewing an approval or to revoke an approval;
(i) the notification to the Registrar General of all approvals granted, renewed or revoked;
(j) the keeping by registration authorities of registers of approved premises;
(k) the issue by the Registrar General of guidance supplementing the provision made by the regulations.
( ) Regulations under this section may provide that premises approved for the registration of civil partnerships may differ from those premises approved for the registration of civil marriages.
(3) Without prejudice to the width of subsection (2)(e), the Chancellor of the Exchequer must exercise his power to provide for the imposition of conditions as mentioned there so as to secure that members of the public are permitted to attend when two people sign the civil partnership schedule on approved premises in accordance with section 6(3A)(a)
( ) For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.