Democratic Unionist Party MP Dr William McCrea has criticised David Cameron for pushing ahead with the same-sex marriage bill and says “no party has a mandate for that change.”
Dr McCrea, who represents South Antrim in Northern Ireland, cited the absence of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill from yesterday’s Queen’s Speech.
“While the government use the Gracious Speech to outline their priorities for the forthcoming parliamentary term, this House is considering an issue that was absent not only from last year’s Gracious Speech but from any major party manifesto.”
In February, Conservative Equalities Minister Helen Grant dismissed this claim, saying: “It was in the Contract for Equalities that was published at the same time as the Conservative General Election manifesto. It was quite clear what our intentions may well be.”
Downing Street said yesterday there was no need for the bill to be in the speech because it was a “carry-over” measure introduced midway through the last session.
Dr McCrea added: “The prime minister should reflect on whether parliamentary time should be devoted to pushing through the redefinition of marriage. No party has a mandate for that change, and many Conservative activists who have deserted to UKIP have cited the government’s pushing that legislation through this Parliament as showing that they are out of touch with the day-to-day concerns of ordinary voters.”
All eight of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) MPs – including Dr McCrea – voted against February’s second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales.
The UK Government announced on Thursday MPs in the House of Commons would resume debate of the bill on Monday 20 May.
Unlike in Scotland, efforts to legalise equal marriage in Northern Ireland’s Stormont Assembly remain stalled.
The DUP, which opposes the measure, has continuously blocked progress on same-sex marriage legislation in the Assembly.