Current Affairs

Labour says government is ‘lashing out’ at ‘poor handling’ of equal marriage bill

May 30, 2013
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The shadow minister for equalities Kate Green has accused the government of “lashing out at the Labour Party” over the “poor handling of the same-sex marriage bill”.

Ms Green, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston, made the remarks after a government source criticised comments made by Labour’s shadow equalities minister in the House of Lords, Baroness Glenys Thornton.

Yesterday, Baroness Thornton warned against allowing next week’s House of Lords second reading debate on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill to drag on into the late hours.  

With at least 86 peers having requested to speak on Monday, the vote could of happened as late as 3am.

But on Thursday the government confirmed that the debate would carry on in the daytime until 3pm on Tuesday – and the vote would take place thereafter.

A government source said: “The government wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise the equal marriage bill and it’s disingenuous to pretend it would. If we need to have the vote in the Lords the next day because second reading is likely to run past peers bedtimes, then that’s fine.

“It was the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats that sought to back bill wreckers with the Civil Partnership amendment in the Commons and it was our efforts that prevented others imposing a £4bn pension cost and an 18 month delay on the bill. It’s laughable to suggest we would try and jeopardise the bill now it’s in the Lords.”

In a statement to, Kate Green said: “It is disgraceful for anonymous ‘government sources’ to be lashing out at the Labour Party over their own poor handling of the same-sex marriage bill, when it was Labour votes that got it through the Commons, in the face of opposition and division within the Conservative Party. The Conservatives should stop lashing out at everyone else and get their own house in order.

“Labour in the Lords has been warning for weeks that the government is putting the passage of the bill at risk in the Lords if it holds the vote in the middle of the night. We warned them strongly about this again this week and we are glad they have finally listened.”

She continued: “The government has failed to persuade its own members to support this bill and it has left it to Labour to sort much of the handling – including us proposing a last minute amendment to address the issue of opposite sex civil partnerships and avoid a wrecking amendment, as well as getting the timing right for votes in the Lords.

“We strongly support the bill because we believe in equality, which is why we have pulled out all the stops and done all we can to make sure marriage equality is achieved, in spite of David Cameron’s failure to lead his own divided party on the issue.”

A Liberal Democrat source told “Liberal Democrats are proud of the work we’ve done to put equal marriage on the agenda. It’s thanks to the leadership of Nick Clegg and Lynne Featherstone that this bill is before Parliament in the first place.

“Both in the Commons and in the Lords, we are working with Labour and those Conservatives that support equality to get equal marriage into law as soon as possible.”

More: Conservative Party, conservatives, equal marriage, gay marriage, gay wedding, gay weddings, house of lords, Kate Green, Labour, labour mp, Labour party, lib dems, Liberal Democrats, lords, Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, marriage equality, MPs, parliament, Peers, same sex weddings, Same-sex wedding, second reading, Shadow equalities minister, shadow minister for equalities, tories, Tory party, UK Marriage Bill

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