Marriage Bill - Why I Abstained

Ealing Central and Acton MP Angie Bray explains

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Ealing Central and Acton Angie Bray remains unconvinced over the proposed new marriage laws

Ealing MPs and the Marriage Bill, and

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The Ealing Central and Acton MP, Angie Bray, was one of only 5 Conservatives who abstained from last night's vote on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

There were 136 Tory MPs who opposed the bill , 22 Labour MPs (including Ealing North Steve Pound) and four of the 56 Liberal Democrat MPs.

The Bill was passed by 225 votes in parliament.

Ms Bray says she had received letters and emails from both sides of the debate, and 'was extremely impressed' with the thought and time given by many.

MPs were given a free vote, meaning they were not ordered to vote a particular way by party whips and Ms Bray made it clear that hers would be based entirely on her own decision.

Last night Ms Bray decided to abstain explaining her reasons in an intervention in the debate:

"Does my right hon. Friend accept that some of us may find ourselves having to abstain, even though that is not exactly ideal, because that is the only way of making the point that although what we are debating has merit, a conclusive case has not been made? I would like to make it clear that, although I am not implacably opposed to change, I need to be convinced that it is necessary and has been properly thought through. When I hear of Government lawyers who are not even able to deal with the basic detail of the change to marriage under new laws, I really despair."

Cheryl Gillan (who was speaking at the time) responded:

"I am glad I allowed my hon. Friend to intervene, because I think she has spoken for many people on both sides of this House."

Ms Bray said afterwards:

"I know abstentions usually satisfy nobody, but sometimes they are the only way, as I said in the Chamber, of making an important point. The reason I voted in both lobbies, rather than being absent, was to make the point that I was abstaining in order to express my view.

"As a conservative (C and c), I feel that I am facing two conflicting principles in this debate. On one hand, as a modern conservative, I endorse the approach of extending equality wherever possible. However, this conflicts with another conservative principle, which is to respect long-standing institutions such as marriage and where they need change, only where that change can be shown to be necessary and workable. So far, I remain unconvinced, particularly while lawyers continue to wrestle with the basic details of marriage under the proposed new terms. I hope, therefore, that my abstention - which is not usually my style - will be seen as a reflection of a genuinely held position."

Ms Bray says she will be writing to everyone who has written to or emailed her on this matter.


6th February 2013