Written evidence from Rev Philip Venables [HAB0099]
I would oppose a legal definition of, or legal recognition of, co-habitation. Marriage is a publicly-stated, publicly-known commitment. So is a civil partnership. What is co-habitation? There may be an infinite variety—a man and a woman living together for decades, with children; two sisters choosing to share a home for life; a friend moving in with another friend. In a sense, co-habitation is a non-thing.
The welfare of children is indeed paramount. Every statistic and all known evidence demonstrates that on any score of wellbeing, children of married parents score higher. In particular, the breakdown of cohabiting relationships is vastly more than that of marriages.
Therefore, the best way to promote the welfare of children is to promote marriage. Enshrining the rights of non-commitment in law can only bring more suffering to children by further demoting marriage.
In essence, marriage is good for society and good for children. We should do everything we can to promote it and not muddy the waters.