UK - Survivor pensions for unmarried and same sex partners are one step closer to becoming compulsory, following a bill proposed by MP Jane Griffiths.
The bill proposed that civil registration between cohabiting couples should be allowed so that they can receive certain legal rights – including the right to a survivor’s pension.
In her speech to the Commons, Jane Griffiths said that the absence of rights is far greater among public rather than private sector pension schemes.
She said: “It is ironic that [the lack of survivor’s provision for unmarried and same sex partners] is reflected throughout public pension schemes,while many private sector schemes recognise the rights of partners and allow people to nominate whomever they wish to receive benefits if they should die.”
Griffiths noted that this model of partnership registration was already widespread in European countries already, where it has proved to work well, according to the Reading East MP.
She said: “The model is one of partnership registration and already exists in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, France, Germany, Belgium and the Catalonia region of Spain. Virtually all our near European neighbours have introduced the change and the sky has not fallen in.”
The Law Society has supported these proposals and has called for a separate cohabitation law separate to matrimonial law. The society noted that existing laws are unclear and inadequate in relation to unmarried and same sex partners.
However, these proposals have proved controversial among some MPs who have taken exception to the bill on religious grounds. Labour MP for Middlesborough Stuart Bell argued that if introduced these rules could undermine marriages.
The bill – introduced under the 10-minute rule – was passed by a majority of 120, meaning that the proposals can be debated in more depth in the forthcoming session of parliament.
This move follows changes earlier this year that gave unmarried and same sex partners equal rights to receive survivors pensions in the MP’s scheme – the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund.
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