THE MP for North East Hampshire voted against the gay marriage bill, but may change his mind in a future vote.

James Arbuthnot, whose constituency includes Bramley and Odiham, was one of 175 MPs to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill that was debated in Parliament yesterday. A total of 400 MPs voted in favour.

Basingstoke MP Maria Miller, the minister for Women and Equalities, introduced the bill. MPs were given a free vote, meaning they were not ordered to vote in a particular way by their political parties.

In a statement released today, Mr Arbuthnot said he voted against but admitted feeling torn on the issue after hearing the debate.

He said: “I voted as I did because my instinct, my upbringing and our history made me think that marriage ought to be between a man and a woman, and that we should change that law only if a strong case had been made for doing so.

“I felt there had been insufficient warning to, or preparation of, the country for this change. And given that I was so torn, I felt that it would be arrogant of me to do other than give great weight to the views of my constituents, who had written to me overwhelmingly opposed to the bill.”

He added that the support shown meant the bill would go through “and the world will not come to an end, neither will our society descend into decadence or immorality as a result.”

He said: “I shall analyse the discussion, and may well find myself persuaded to support the third reading of the bill.”