Gay marriage law should be delayed to focus on 'things that matter', says Hammond

Hammond the most senior member of the government to speak out on issue.

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Indy Politics

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, has today become the first cabinet minister to question legislation to allow gay marriage.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Hammond said the government needed to "focus on the things that matter to the public" such as jobs and the economy.

The introduction of gay marriage is currently under government consultation and people have until June to officially comment on any potential legislation.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has previously backed gay marriage and US President Barack Obama and new French president, Francois Hollande, have both been outspoken in backing same-sex marriage.

However, Mr Hammond said today that ministers needed to carefully consider the results of the consultation process adding that gay marriage was not a priority for the government.

"Clearly it is not the number one priority," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

"There is no legislation in the Queen's Speech, there is a consultation going on and we should look at and listen to what people are saying in response to that consultation.

"I think the Government has got to show over the next couple of years that it is focused on the things that matter to people in this country."

In voicing his concerns Mr Hammond becomes the most senior member of the government to speak out.

His comments, however, echo the statements of many Tory MPs who listed the issue of same-sex marriage as one of the reasons for the Tory's disastrous local election results.