We’ve just spotted some very interesting new Bills going through Parliament at the moment, many of which focus on children and families, and thought we would share them with you.

First up is the Registration of Marriage Bill, which has been put forward by a group of Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem politicians. There is no text for the Bill available yet, so it’s not clear what the Bill seeks to achieve, but we did wonder whether it had anything to do with the excellent Equal Civil Partnerships movement, which seeks to make civil marriages available to opposite sex couples (it is currently only available to same sex couples). The Bill had its first reading yesterday, and will hold the next reading on 21st October. We have emailed the Bill’s sponsor to ask for a copy of the Bill and will publish the text once we get permission.

The next piece of proposed legislation which caught our eye was the Child Poverty In The UK (Target For Reduction) Bill, which as the name suggests aims to establish targets for reducing child poverty and ensure the publication of reports to track target progress. This Bill also had its first reading yesterday. It was proposed by Dan Jarvis MP, who has been in the news today as a potential candidate for the Labour Leadership.  The Bill will have its second reading in 2017.

Related by theme to the Child Poverty Bill is the Families with Children and Young People in Debt (Respite) Bill.  This proposed piece of law, put forward by Kelly Tolhurst MP, wants to establish a duty on lenders and creditors to provide periods of financial respite for families with children and young people in debt under certain circumstances and to place a duty on public authorities to provide access to related advice, guidance and support in this context. Its first reading, like all the Bills in this post, was held on 29th June, 2016. The next reading for this Bill will be held on 28th October, 2016.

Moving on to the equally concerning topic of Domestic Violence, the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill seeks to require the United Kingdom to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention – Apparently everyone is ratifying it but us….). The Bill was proposed by Dr Eilidh Whiteford, and will have its second reading on 16th December, 2016.

Next is the Sexual Offences (Pardons Etc.) Bill, which would like to make provision for the pardoning or setting aside, of cautions and convictions for specified sexual offences that have now been abolished. There is no text yet available for this Bill but is likely to relate to same sex intimacy which is thankfully no longer prohibited in law. The sponsor of this Bill is John Nicolson MP, who publicly announced he was gay in 1999. It is also interesting to note that Sir Keir Starmer, former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and former Head of the Crown Prosecution Service is also backing this Bill. Keir is currently the Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras. The Bill’s second reading is scheduled for 21st October, 2016.

And finally, we have the Merchant Shipping (Homosexual Conduct) Bill, which similarly looks to address same sex relationships, and crucially, amend the law so that same sex intimacy can no longer be grounds for discharge within the army or navy. We are not experts in this area of law, however we have a feeling this Bill is simply tidying up this legislation in line with the current policy on the ground within military organisations in the UK. At least, we very much hope that’s the case. Regardless, it’s a welcome amendment. This Bill was sponsored by John Glen MP, and will have its second reading at the start of 2017.

The only thing left to note is that all the proposals above are made within Private Members’ Bills and that whilst these Bills very rarely make law, with public support they can sometimes go on to be ratified and implemented.

Which of these Bills would you support?

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