David Cameron has won battle on gay marriage - but not the war, Tory MPs warn

PM faces battle to push Bill through Lords as rebels begin tabling major amendments

Conservative MPs have warned David Cameron that he had won a battle but not the war on gay marriage as they vowed to seek big changes to the Bill that will legalise it. Ministers are privately nervous the House of Lords will water down the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill and that a majority of Tory MPs might back key changes sought by peers, which Mr Cameron would then seek to overturn in the Commons. “We are expecting problems in the Lords,” one minister admitted.

Tory opponents of the measure said peers would feel emboldened to defeat the Government because more Tory MPs voted against the Bill than supported it when it received a second reading on Tuesday night.

The Bill’s next hurdle will be when it is discussed in detail by a committee of MPs. Rebel Tories have already begun tabling a flood of amendments. They will seek further safeguards to prevent churches including the Church of England being forced to carry out gay marriages if a case were taken to the European Court of Human Rights; provision for Parliament to reconsider the issue if the ECHR intervenes; more protection for public sector staff who object to same-sex marriage; and the idea of a “civil union” for both heterosexual and gay couples.

David Burrowes, a leading Tory opponent of the Bill, who will now sit on the committee that will examine it, said he would be “constructive” as he sought amendments but added: “I am in it to win it.” He believed three-quarters of the 40 Tory MPs who abstained on Tuesday had major concerns about the measure, and even some of those  who supported it did so with “a heavy heart”. Mr Burrowes said: “We succeeded in one objective – sending a message very clearly and loudly to the Lords.”

Some Cameron critics claimed his authority over his party had been diminished by the rebellion, which saw 127 Tory MPs vote for the Bill and 136 oppose it. But modernisers insisted that, despite the Tory divisions, the legalising of same-sex marriage would enhance Mr Cameron’s standing with the public.

Ryan Shorthouse, the director of Bright Blue think tank, said: “We know now that a majority of parliamentarians and the public – as well as younger Conservative MPs and activists – are in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.

“This has been a good week for freedom and for love. Faced with gloomy economic circumstances and deep unease among some members of the party about extending marriage, David Cameron could have quietly dropped this. But he is pressing on, and in the months and years ahead will work to convince sceptics that the Bill will only bring more happiness as well as safeguarding religious belief. As such, many voters will see the Prime Minister as principled, and the Conservatives will be rewarded for this in the long term.”

Mr Cameron told the Commons he was “proud” the Government had brought the measure forward. He said: “The great thing about last night’s vote is that two gay people who love each other will now be able to get married, and I think that is an important advance. I think we should be promoting marriage, rather than looking at any other way of weakening it.”

Coming out against: Lib Dem dissenters

Four of the 56 Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the Bill to legalise gay marriage, despite Nick Clegg’s strong support for the measure.

Sarah Teather The former Education minister who is MP for Brent Central, said: “The extra protections offered to same-sex couples are marginal, [but] the potential negatives to society over time may be more considerable.”

Gordon Birtwistle The MP for Burnley, said he had consulted with churches in his constituency and found that they agreed with his own inclination to oppose the Bill as it would weaken the institution of marriage.

John Pugh The MP for Southport, said: “It achieves none of its objectives and weakens the link between marriage and the family. As a result it draws [the state] into … debatable judgements and rulings on sexual, personal and religious behaviour.”

Sir Alan Beith Former party deputy and MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, was not available for comment.

Andrew Grice

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
books

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teacher requi...

Deputy Head of Science

£36000 - £60000 per annum: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client are a we...

IT Teacher

£22000 - £32000 per annum + TLR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client is...

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London