Deal over gay marriage plan

Divisions over plans to legalise gay marriage were exposed as 70 MPs voted for a "wrecking" amendment designed to scupper the Government's controversial Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill by allowing straight couples to take up civil partnerships.

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National

Same sex marriage Bill heads to the Lords

Plans to allow same-sex marriage survived a Conservative backlash after a fraught debate in the House of Commons.

An amendment which supporters warned could derail the legislation altogether was easily defeated after the Government reached an agreement with Labour.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill now looks set to be approved by MPs tomorrow - but is likely to meet stiff resistance in the House of Lords.

A bid by a Tory opponent of gay marriage to extend civil partnerships to heterosexual couples attracted 70 supporters in a free vote - far fewer than the 100-plus anticipated by some critics.

Ex-minister Tim Loughton insisted it was not a "wrecking amendment" and was a move backed by the public and many advocates of same-sex marriage.But the change - which Culture Secretary Maria Miller said would impose significant delays and costs - was defeated by a majority of 305.

National

Labour vote could spell end for 'wrecking' amendment

Labour's tabling of an amendment will see a free vote for the party's MPs.

The amendment calls for a consultation on civil partnerships for same-sex couples to happen immediately, rather than in five years' time as the Government has pledged.

Labour does not want it to jeopardise the passage of the gay marriage bill.

So if the amendment is accepted, the Labour front bench will not back Tory MP Tim Loughton's amendment, which has been condemned by some as a "wrecking" measure.

Yvette Cooper and Ed Miliband will not discuss yet, though, what will happen if the party's proposed alteration to the gay marriage bill is not accepted.

National

Government 'may accept' civil partnerships amendment

by - Political Correspondent

The Prime Minister's spokesman has hinted the Government will accept a Labour amendment tonight on extending civil partnerships - a move that should ensure the Same Sex Marriages Bill becomes law.

The Culture Secretary Maria Miller had argued for a lengthy consultation over five years about whether civil partnerships should be extended to included heterosexual couples. Labour today put forward a Manuscript Note - a form of amendment - demanding an immediate consultation.

The Manuscript Note is entirely consistent with the Secretary of State's amendment, which is that there should be a full consultation within five years.

– David Cameron's spokesman

The implication is that the Government and Labour can reach agreement, to ensure the Same Sex Marriage bill goes through.

National

Free vote could delay gay marriage bill's progress

February's same-sex motion passed comfortably in a packed Commons despite a majority of Conservatives failing to support the bill.

The Coalition's Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will be debated over two days, with its third reading - the final hurdle in the Commons - tomorrow.

The second reading of the bill in early February saw the threat of a Conservative backbench rebellion comfortably overwhelmed with 400 MPs giving the motion a majority of 225.

Just 127 Conservatives endorsed the proposals at second reading in the Commons.

The smooth progress of the bill at third reading is less assured, though, thanks to Conservative MP's Tim Loughton's proposed amendment to the bill to allow heterosexuals to have the same right to civil partnerships as gay couples.

His suggested measure is attracting support from supporters of equal marriage as well as those who want to stop the legislation.

Labour's frontbench team is set to support Mr Loughton's amendment, giving it a real prospect of success in a free vote.

Read: Historic gay marriage plans passed despite Tory divide

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