5.On 30 June 2003 the Government published a consultation paper, ‘Civil Partnership: a framework for the legal recognition of same-sex couples’, setting out its proposals for civil partnership. After a three-month consultation period, during which over three thousand responses were received, a report summarising the consultation findings was published in November 2003. An intention to bring forward a Civil Partnership Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 26 November 2003.
6.On 10 September 2003, the Scottish Executive announced that in the event that civil partnership registration was introduced in England and Wales, same-sex couples should similarly be able to form a civil partnership in Scotland in order to access a comprehensive package of rights and responsibilities in both reserved and devolved areas. The Scottish Executive therefore proposed seeking the agreement of the Scottish Parliament to the inclusion of Scottish provisions in a future Westminster Civil Partnership Bill. The Scottish Executive published a consultation document on 30 September and an analysis of consultation responses was published on 5 February 2004. The Executive subsequently reaffirmed its intention to introduce civil partnership in Scotland, if it were introduced in England and Wales. On 3 June 2004 the Scottish Parliament agreed to the inclusion of Scottish provisions in a Westminster Bill.
7.Northern Ireland Office Ministers set out their policy intentions on civil partnership in their consultation document, published on 19 December 2003. In it they announced that they supported the introduction of civil partnership in Northern Ireland and the inclusion of provisions for Northern Ireland in the Westminster Bill. The consultation period closed on 5 March 2004. Northern Ireland Office Ministers decided to take the proposal forward and establish a civil partnership registration scheme for Northern Ireland by including the necessary provisions in the Civil Partnership Bill.