HALTON MP Derek Twigg today defended his decision to oppose the Government’s legislation on gay marriage.

He said the issue had triggered one of the largest amounts of correspondence he has ever received since becoming an MP in 1997.

Mr Twigg said: “I have received over 300 communications on the subject of same sex marriage and 94% have been opposed to redefining marriage.

“In coming to my decision, I have both taken account of the views of my constituents and used my own judgement. I believe it is important to put my vote on Tuesday in some context. I have a strong record of voting for equal gay rights including civil partnerships.

“This was a free vote because it was considered to be a matter of conscience.”

He said the debate was both thoughtful and considered as different points of view were listened to with respect.

He added: “I have listened carefully to all views on this issue but I remain unconvinced that there was a strong enough case for me to vote for the redefinition of marriage.

“I might also add that until David Cameron announced he was going to propose a change in the law to allow same sex couples to marry, I cannot recall having a single constituent contact me demanding such a change. The logic of the bill was also flawed because it did not give the same right of civil partnership to heterosexual couples.

“I also have doubts that the so called safeguards in the bill to protect the rights of religious organisations and religious freedoms will be robust enough. There are, I accept, different opinions about this but I believe enough doubt remains to be a cause for genuine concern.”

The bill was carried by 400 to 175. 

Altogether, 22 Labour MPs, 134 Conservatives and 4 Liberal Democrats opposed the legislation. There were 67 cross party abstentions.

Weaver Vale Conservative MP Graham Evans, who represents Runcorn, abstained.