Face to Face: row over Welsh Secretary David Jones' comments on gay parents

Adrian Masters interviewing Welsh Secretary David Jones Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

For the first of a new series of Face to Face I've been speaking to David Jones, the MP for Clwyd West who's been Secretary of State for Wales since last autumn's reshuffle.

In a wide-ranging interview he tells me what made him join the Conservative party at the age of 18, the family values of self-reliance learned from his father whom he describes as 'the hardest-working man I've ever met' and the role his Christian faith plays in his life.

We also deal with the controversies. Most recently his decision to vote against the UK Government's plans for equal marriage made him one of just two cabinet members to vote against. He explains why he took that decision.

He was involved in an earlier controversy during the short period when he was an Assembly Member, but then the row was about his membership of the Freemasons. What does he make of that dispute now?

Despite being a former AM, he's often painted as an anti-devolutionist or at best a reluctant convert. I ask him what his real feelings about devolution are and what he thinks about future powers for Wales.

You can watch the full programme below.

After the programme's broadcast, Mr Jones came for heavy criticism over his comments on the issue of equal marriage.

I was one of two cabinet ministers who did vote against it and it was for various reasons. Certainly in constituency terms, I felt that overwhelmingly the constituents of Clwyd West were opposed to the change. But also I regard marriage as an institution that has developed over many centuries, essentially for the provision of a warm and safe environment for the upbringing of children, which is clearly something that two same-sex partners can’t do. Which is not to say that I'm in any sense opposed to stable and committed same-sex partnerships.

Campaign group Stonewall Cymru says it's 'saddened' by the comments. Its director, Andrew White, said opinion polls show that 62% of people in Wales support the UK Government's proposals for same-sex marriage. He added:

We’re saddened that the Secretary of State for Wales should make such an offensive and inaccurate remark. There are many different types of family in Wales today, including many same sex couples raising children. It’s deeply undermining to families and children when they hear this sort of ill-informed comment. Fortunately, recent YouGov polling for Stonewall Cymru shows that the Secretary of State’s views are out of touch with the majority of people both in Wales and throughout Great Britain.

Following the criticism, Mr Jones issued the following statement:

I was asked on the Face to Face programme why I voted against the same sex marriage proposals. I replied that I had done so on the basis that I took the view that marriage is an institution that has developed over the centuries so as to provide a safe and warm environment for the upbringing ofchildren. I made the point of stressing that I was fully supportive of committed same sex relationships. I also strongly approve of civil partnerships.

I did not say in the interview that same sex partners should not adopt children and that is not my view. I simply sought to point out that, since same sex partners could not biologically procreate children, the institution of marriage was one that, in my opinion, should be reserved to opposite sex partners.