MPs split over Same Sex Marriage bill

MPs discussed the bill this week.
MPs discussed the bill this week.

The region’s MPs were split this week when the House of Commons voted to allow gay marriage in England and Wales.

MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough Andrew Jones and MP for Skipton and Ripon Julian Smith both approved the proposals.

However Alec Shelbrooke, who represents Wetherby as MP for Elmet and Rothwell, did not support the bill, which will now go before the House of Lords.

Mr Shelbrooke said: “I fully support Civil Partnerships and as such I voted for an amendment in the Commons this week calling for equal Civil Partnerships for any couple regardless of sexuality.

“Marriage is, however, in my view a religious union and any other form of union should therefore be described a ‘partnership’.

“I see no role for the State, or European Courts of Human Rights, in forcing the Church to host same-sex marriages and for this reason I was unable to support the Same Sex Marriage Bill.”

He continued: “I do, and will continue to, support gay rights and equal rights under the law and this is the right and proper thing to do.

“I am grateful to the Prime Minister for granting MPs a free vote to vote with their personal conscience on this issue.

“On matters of faith, not State, I think this is vital.”

The Bill was being considered by MPs at the report stage and third reading on Monday and Tuesday this week.

Mr Jones said: “The principle of the bill was not going to change.

“From my point of view, I want to extend the option of marriage to more people and encourage commitment in society to make society stronger, while protecting religious freedoms which are very important.”

He added: “This was about refining the bill, and that is why I supported it.”

A total of 161 MPs voted against the plans.

366 MPs voted to approve the third reading of the Bill.

Mr Jones said: “There is still opposition but there is also support.

“I have received far less correspondence for this, the report stage, than I did in the run up to the second reading.”

MP for Skipton and Ripon Julian Smith said: “I voted at third reading in favour of the bill as I believe it protects churches and no church needs to conduct a same sex ceremony, but at the same time it opens up civil marriage to all. It has been a controversial proposal but one which I believe is well balanced and protects religious freedoms.”

The Same Sex Marriage Bill proposes to make provision for the marriage of same sex couples in England and Wales.

The Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on January 24, and will now be considered by the House of Lords.