Conservative MP Eleanor Laing, who abstained from this year’s vote on equal marriage, claiming people in her constituency still needed time to get used to civil partnerships, has been elected deputy speaker of the Commons.
Tuesday’s election was conducted under the single transferable vote system (STV), where voters list their preferred candidates in order on the ballot paper. As no candidate received more than 50% of the first preference votes, the votes were redistributed, over six rounds.
Brian Binley and Eleanor Laing abstained. Ahead of February’s second reading, she said: “I find that I can neither support this bill, nor am I happy to vote against it, it has been badly constructed.
“I have had a large number of letters and emails, but I have had more telling me to vote against it.
“I have to think of everybody in this community and I think it would have been better to give people time to get used to civil partnerships.”
Civil partnerships have been taking place in the UK for nearly eight years.
In a Commons debate in June 1998, Ms Laing sponsored the motion for lowering the homosexual age of consent to 16, saying “Nothing that is being proposed tonight is in any way encouraging physical sexual activity among young people before they are sufficiently mature.” She differed with many of her Conservative colleagues, saying “It is nonsense to say that there cannot be equality between 16-year-old boys and 16-year-old girls. Young people need protection, but young people are not protected by being made into criminals.”
She voted in favour of the Civil Partnerships Act in 2004 and in favour of the Equality Act in 2007.