IT is surely not unreasonable for people to expect their Members of Parliament to say how they intend to vote on issues of major national concern.
Take for example the Government’s current Consultation of Same-sex Marriage which opens with the question: “Do you agree or disagree that homosexual couples should be allowed to marry?”
When I wrote to Stephen Barclay MP asking him how he intended to answer this question when it came to a vote in Parliament, his reply asserted that ‘.. the Government made a commitment alongside its 2010 manifesto’ to consider changing the law to allow same-sex marriage. Really? Does anyone recall such a pre-election manifesto commitment?
Mr Barclay went on to make another claim, namely that the proposed legislation only relates to civil marriage and would not affect ‘religious marriage’. Untrue! Two judgements by the European Court of Human Rights, combined with a Court of Appeal ruling in 2010, mean that if the Coalition Government presses ahead with its plans to re-define marriage to include homosexual couples, it will be automatically obliged to allow gay marriages to take place in religious premises.
In other wards, any member of the clergy who is registered to perform marriage in their church will be compelled by this proposed legislation to conduct same-sex marriages in their place of worship.
This will undoubtedly impact on the Church of England far more than any other denomination because their clergy are all registrars of marriage.
If Mr Barclay intends to vote in favour then he ought to have the courage to say so and face the electoral consequences.