Written evidence from Mr David Vestey [HAB0103]


I offer evidence as a private individual in response to the Call for Evidence.


My interest in this matter is in promoting marriage as a stable, loving, lifelong partnership (where possible), which I have seen in the youthwork situations in which I volunteer and in day-to-day life, to be positive for children and, indeed, for our society.


In my opinion:


  1. There is a well established process for people to formally and legally commit to living with each other in an exclusive relationship, called marriage.


  1. If people deem marriage to have some negative connotation then a civil partnership is available. This still requires a positive commitment.


  1. I do not understand why legal rights should be assumed to apply to people without their consent and choice. If they do consent and chose to be together and wish to receive legal recognition then there are established options available.


  1. Giving legal rights to those who cohabit would then require another term for people who chose to live together without commitment to each other.


  1. If cohabiting couples were automatically granted the same rights as those who are married or in civil partnerships then in my opinion people would be even more likely to “drift” into a relationship without considering that commitment, make it less stable. No doubt you are aware that cohabiting couples are around three times more likely to have separated than a married couple by the time their child is five years old. I believe this to be due to the positive decision taken by people who get married.


  1. If a couple wish to remain cohabiting for life then I understand legal matters such as inheritance can be dealt with by a will.


  1. I am not aware of any benefits to the adults, and certainly not to their children, of a less committed relationship so I do not consider it wise for the Government to promote such options by giving additional legal status. In my opinion it is reasonable for society (and the Government) to promote marriage as a commitment between partners, not to continually undermine marriage by offering less committed options.


I trust this helps.


July 2021