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Don Foster MP - 2/275 - Bath's #1 Supporter

Don organises Bath debate on the Same Sex Marriage Bill

February 12, 2024 by Don Foster MP in Don in Bath, News

Don Foster, MP for Bath has announced that he is to host a public debate within his constituency of Bath to discuss the Same Sex Marriage Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.

The event has been scheduled for Tuesday 19th February and will take place at the Percy Community Centre (New King Street) at 7pm.

In this panel style debate, Don Foster MP – who voted for the Bill in its second reading – will be joined by Rev Kieren Bourne (Living Springs Metropolitan Community Church) presenting arguments why the Same Sex Marriage Bill should be supported.

Stewart Keiller (Bath City Church Leader) and Edward Mason (Bath Abbey Rector) will put forward the case why MPs should vote against the Same Sex Marriage Bill.

Chaired by Lynne Fernquest, Editor of the Bath Chronicle, questions will be taken from the audience and posed to panellists.

Doors will open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start, operating on a first come first served basis. Capacity at the venue is limited to 120. Attendees are advised to arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Commenting, Don said:

“Over the past few months I have been contacted by hundreds of Bath residents who have articulated arguments both for and against the proposals in the Same Sex Marriage Bill.

“There are understandably strong feelings on both sides of this important issue. This event will give the people of Bath the opportunity to pose questions ahead of the next stages of the Bill and the final House of Commons vote.”

Don Foster backs Same Sex Marriage Bill

Don Foster, MP for Bath today voted for proposals put forward in the Same Sex Marriage Bill.

The Commons voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill Second Reading, by 400 to 175, a majority of 225, at the end of a full day’s debate on the bill.

Commenting, Don Foster said:

“Having received hundreds of letters and emails – both for and against same-sex marriage proposals – I am aware that that opinion is split amongst Bath residents, just as it is amongst politicians and Church leaders.

“The guiding principles of my politics have always been freedom, fairness and equality and it is with these in mind that I will enthusiastically vote in favour of same-sex marriage. I believe it will strengthen, not undermine, the key role that marriage plays in our modern society.

“As a Liberal Democrat, my party was the first to vote in favour of equal marriage at our 2010 Party Conference and I am proud that in Government we are tackling the inequalities faced by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community head on.

“The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society, and crucial to that is equal rights for all. The state should not bar a couple who want to marry just because of their gender and the state should not bar a religious body that wishes to do so from conducting same-sex marriages”

“However, recognising the strength of opinion on both sides, I have organised a public debate in Bath for Tuesday 19th February at Percy Community Centre. This will give people a chance to pose questions to a panel and me, and to hear in more detail the reasoning behind my position.”

SPEECH: Loving Bath’s markets - Don Foster MP

Earlier this month, in his role as Communities Minister, Don spoke to the National Association of British Market Authorities praising Bath’s historic ties with markets.

“Since I’m among friends, let me make an admission. I’m a market addict. I can’t help it. I come from Bath!

And if you were there at Christmas you would have been in good company as our annual market attracted more than 370,000 visitors in just 19 days of trading

But we have markets all year round. We have the country’s first ever Farmers’ Market established in 1997 in response to Local Agenda 21.

You’ll find it every Saturday under the grand glass topped canopy at the Midland Railway terminus of Green Park Station. It’s literally bringing home Bath’s bacon. And I can vouch for the quality of the produce, in fact, if you’re ever in the neighbourhood I can give you a tip - Chris Rich’s greengrocery stall. It’s a winner. Just tell him I sent you.

And I can’t mention Bath without a mention of the historic Guildhall market that is near Robert Adam’s elegant Pultney Bridge and close to my beloved rugby ground.

It’s been around a little longer than most markets - since the 1770s in fact and sometimes when I wander round the stalls on a bustling Saturday afternoon - picking up some Bath soft cheese, a few Lions midget gems at the Bath humbug shop, some light bulbs from M & K Electrical - I wonder whether Jane Austen herself, ever had a literary light-bulb moment while searching for a bonnet or two amongst the stalls?

The market buzz

But the truth is, despite my faithfulness to the market, I have to face facts for I am not alone. This love-in spans our nations and other nations

Great emporiums were there in Roman times - probably before - and wherever and whenever they have been, they have brought something unique to our towns.

That vital buzz of commerce, of competition, of self-confidence that animates everything around it. I came across a wonderful message on the love your local market Facebook page the other day: “Leeds Markets are still open despite the snow! TAKE THAT WEATHER!”

We need to bottle that market buzz, because…when the high streets are snowed under…when we’re all getting down in the dumps…when we watch familiar faces like Jessops, HMV and Blockbusters depart the scene, we know markets are still magnets for optimism.

We know they are still the big draw; still the places that can pull local people out of their comfort zones, away from their computers, out of their cars. They are still capable of reigniting interest in local shops and local restaurants.

Look at the effect the Bull Ring market has on shopping in Birmingham City centre. After you’ve popped into the Rag Market for some ready-made home furnishing or wandered over to the Indoor Market for a piece of fresh fish, you’re as likely as not to stop off for coffee or a browse in the bookshop.

You know, in Bath, we did a bit of research on our Christmas market. We found people went on to visit attractions such as the Thermae bath spa and Roman Baths, and then went on to spend an average £55.85 outside the market.

So markets can have a massive impact in our towns especially as they employ an estimated 95,000 across the country and turn over more than £3.5 billion.”

To request a full copy of the speech, please email donfoster@parliament.uk