Alan Beith

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Alan Beith was the Liberal Party and then Liberal Democrat Party MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed from 1973 until he stood down at the 2015 general election.

Abortion

Mr Beith voted for Nadine Dorries’s amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill on 7 September 2011, which was ultimately defeated by 368 to 118 votes[1]. This amendment would have stopped BPAS and Marie Stopes from providing counselling for women with unwanted pregnancies and allowed ‘independent’ counselling including that provided by faith-based organisations.

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 Alan Beith voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease[2]. An October 2014 briefing report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which had been investigating the issue for three years, stated that there was no evidence to show that mitochondrial donation was unsafe[3]. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed[4]. After clearing both Houses, mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.

Same-Sex Marriage

Mr Beith was one of four Liberal Democrat MPs to vote against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in February 2013[5] and May 2013[6]. In the December 2011 debate he had asked:

"How will the legal protections that the Minister has described apply in those denominations in which authority resides not with a central organisation or with ministers but with the local congregation? Will she bear it in mind that the fear of having to engage in litigation, even if it is unlikely to succeed, is a genuine one in many Churches?"[7]

Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE)

April 2012: Alan Beith quoted on CARE, an organisation that has sponsored a "Gay Cure" event, and has campaigned against equal rights for homosexuals: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/04/04/more-mps-distance-themselves-from-gay-cure-event-sponsors-internship-scheme/

Climate Change

In 2006, MPs were asked three questions by the Rough Guide's Mark Ellingham on how seriously they took climate change as politicians and as responsible, active citizens. Alan Beith replied:

"1: Climate change is one of the three most important global issues now facing us.
2: Britain has a key role to play both in reducing its own contribution to climate change and in taking a lead in international efforts to secure commitment to environment-friendly policies.
3: My personal commitments, already carried out, include: changing home heating to a condensing boiler and reducing temperature; additional home insulation and greater use of low-energy light bulbs; waste recycling, including composting; refusing unnecessary packaging; minimising car use, making almost all long distance journeys, and many short journeys by train, and using a more fuel-efficient car; considering domestic micro-power installation."[8]

In February 2010, Alan Beith signed Early Day Motion 524: Recognising Climate Change which states that "this House agrees that climate change is happening and is man-made" and calls this statement a "fact, which has the support of the overwhelming majority of the scientific community"[9].

Animal Testing

In 2006, Alan Beith signed Early Day Motion 1850: Animals in Medical Research which noted that "animal research is only permitted where there is no better alternative and that pain and suffering are minimised and balanced against the potential benefit to humans and animals", supported "the building of the new state of the art biomedical research laboratory at Oxford University", condemned "unlawful animal rights extremism, including any violence, harassment or intimidation of those associated with lawful animal research", and supported "the well-regulated use of animals in medical research".[10]

Science Funding

In October 2010, Alan Beith signed Early Day Motion 767: Science is Vital Campaign. The motion stated that the house "believes that continued investment in research is vital in order to meet the technological and social challenges of the 21st century, and to continue to attract high-tech industries to invest here; further believes that large cuts to science funding are a false economy, due to evidence that research investment fuels economic growth".[11]

Libel Law Reform

In January 2010, Alan Beith signed Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law[12]. The motion noted that human rights activists, scientists, writers and journalists are currently prevented from publishing, and the public prevented from reading, matters of strong public interest due to the chilling effect of the law.

Religious Organisations

Replying in writing to an Email on March 11th 2010 Sir Alan responded to the questions

"Should religious organisations be contracted to deliver public services?" "What do you think the government’s policy should be on faith schools?" & "Do you think that publicly funded faith schools should be allowed to discriminate in their admissions and employment?"

with

"...I believe their contribution is a valuable one, but it should not be allowed to lead to discrimination in public services against people who do no share the religious or social views of these providers Faith schools should admit people of other faiths and no faith, as they always do in Northumberland. Employments restrictions in publicly funded faith schools should be restricted to those posts for which there is a genuine religious requirements over acceptance of the beliefs of the faith organisations, such as religious teachings."

References

  1. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110907/debtext/110907-0002.htm#110907-0002.htm_div339
  2. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2015-02-03&number=147&mpn=Alan_Beith
  3. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/2014-10-01_Mitochondrial_donation__an_introductory_briefing_note_-_final.pdf
  4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31063500
  5. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=Alan_Beith
  6. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=Alan_Beith
  7. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2012-12-11a.155.0#g163.4
  8. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/climate-change-what-mps-think--a-to-c-424376.html
  9. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/524
  10. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2005-06/1850
  11. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/767
  12. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/423

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