THE Government's highly contentious same-sex marriage bill, which was passed by MPs this week, has been 'badly conceived', the Attorney General says.

Dominic Grieve, the Beaconsfield MP, abstained from the main vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday evening, as did Wycombe MP Steve Baker.

Cheryl Gillan, the Amersham and Chesham MP, and David Lidington, the Aylesbury MP voted against. Theresa May, Cookham's MP, voted in favour.

It was carried through despite 161 MPs voting against it.

Mr Grieve, who represents Marlow, said: "I have explained to my constituents that I think the legislation, while I can understand its intentions, was badly conceived. I would have done something entirely different.

"If you want to create equality then I actually think that I would pull the state out of civil marriage altogether and just have civil partnerships available to both same sex and opposite sex couples.

"And to allow people to marry in church according to whatever right or denomination they want and it's open to the church that wants to practice what they call same sex marriage, then they can marry at such a church.

"I've no doubt such a denomination would emerge in time."

He said he had received hundreds of letters on the subjects from constituents, mainly hostile to the proposal.

Mr Baker said: "It's been a hugely emotional question, the most emotional before Parliament.

"Throughout the course my view has been firmer, that we need a thorough rethink of the law's role in marriage.

"I knew it would be carried by a vast majority and I didn't want to support it but neither did I want to oppose it because it would only have the effect of wounding same sex couples, including some of my friends."

He advocates a 'civil union' type system similar to that in France and South Africa.

He said: "My preference, which I have argued for, would be for the law to offer a single secular relationship on top of which people could build marriages."

He said there was a large conflict between generations on the issue, with younger people mainly in favour, and older against.

His main belief on the matter is that people should be free to live according to own conscience as far as that does not harm others.

The Minister of Penn Free Methodist Church, Pastor Peter Simpson, was outside of the Commons on Monday to protest against the policy.

The House of Lords will now examine the proposals.