Lord Alli withdraws his pensions amendment to the equal marriage bill

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Labour peer Lord Alli’s amendment to equalise pension provision for same-sex couples in the area of survivor benefits has been withdrawn.

As part of the final day of the committee stage, peers are continuing the process of scrutinising the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill and debating amendments.

In May, Conservative MP Mike Freer criticised the same-sex marriage bill for failing to address pension inequalities and tabled an amendment. 

The bill in its current form will allow pension providers to discriminate against gay married couples as well as those in civil partnerships, by ensuring they receive far less survivor benefits than their straight counterparts.

The government has warned reforming the system would be too expensive.

In May, Equalities Minister Helen Grant said: “We’re very conscious that these [pension] schemes already face difficult economic conditions.” The government estimated that the cost of equalising pensions would be £18 million.

On Monday, the Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti said: “In its current form, the legislation allows for private occupational pension providers to discriminate against gay married couples and those in civil partnerships. As things stand, they could lawfully receive far less valuable survivor benefits than their straight counterparts.”

She added: “Their spouses and civil partners deserve the same benefits as their straight counterparts when their loved ones are gone. It’s really as simple as that.”

Writing for PinkNews.co.uk earlier this month, Lord Alli paid tribute to Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron over his “courageous” support for equal marriage.

A spokesman for Lord Alli said the Labour peer was planning to return to the debate on pension provision during the remaining stages of the Bill.