OXFORDSHIRE’S MPs were split over plans to legalise same-sex marriage last night.

The controversial proposal cleared the House of Commons despite efforts by Tory backbenchers to derail the legislation.

There was applause in the House after MPs voted by 366 to 161 in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at the third reading.

The legislation will go to the House of Lords after the half-term recess where it is expected to attract further opposition from peers.

Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron and Wantage MP Ed Vaizey voted to support the bill. Speaking before the vote, Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said he would also vote in favour.

He said: “I believe it is right in principle to extend marriage in this way. I welcome the protection for churches and other faith groups which is written into the bill, as well as the safeguards against discrimination on grounds of religious belief which is provided by the Equalities Act.”

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood voted against the bill.

Henley MP John Howell voted both ways, which is one way MPs use to abstain. Speaking before the vote, Mr Howell said: “I failed to get the safeguards incorporated I was looking for.”

MP Sir Tony Baldry also indicated before the vote he would abstain.