§ Mr. Donaldson
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) when the decision was made to include Northern Ireland in the Civil Partnership Bill; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the results of the consultation on civil partnerships in Northern Ireland; 
(3) when he will publish his response to the consultation in Northern Ireland on civil partnerships; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Pearson
The consultation paper 'Civil Partnership: A Legal Status for Committed Same-Sex Couples in Northern Ireland' was published on 19 December 2003 with responses invited up to 5 March 2004. The views expressed in response to the consultation reflect the diversity of opinion in our society. All responses have been examined carefully and the points made, both points of principle and detailed comments, have been properly taken into account. Having considered the responses and reflected upon the issues raised, it was concluded that the reasons why we put forward these proposals in the first place still held good. That decision was confirmed publicly in the Press Release issued on 31 March 2004 and the Civil Partnership Bill published on that date included Northern Ireland provisions.
Officials have compiled a report analysing the responses and outlining the Government's approach to the issues raised by respondents. This report will be published within the next few weeks.919W