Alistair Darling

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Alistair Darling was the Labour MP for Edinburgh South West until 2015, when he did not contest the general election. He entered Parliament in 1987 and served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2007 until 2010.


In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Alistair Darling voted to keep the current time limit of 24 weeks in line with the scientific and medical consensus[1].

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 Alistair Darling voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to have genetically related 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.

Skeptical Voter Questionnaire Response


Do you support the use of public funds to provide unproven health products such as homoeopathy?

Public funds should be used to fund the NHS. The treatments available under the NHS are in my view a matter of clinical judgement and as you know there is an independent agency which advises whether or not drug treatments are appropriate or not.

Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?

In relation to abortion, I am not convinced of any need to change the present legislation although that is something which is always subject to medical opinion.

Do you believe the UK should move to an opt out, rather than an opt in, organ donation system?

In relation to organ donation, I think this is a matter for individuals to decide what they want to do.


Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?

I believe that testing on animals has to be strictly controlled but that it is necessary to be able to test developing medicines.


Should religious courts such as Sharia and Beth Din be recognised as alternative systems within UK law?

There can only be one system of law in the country and I believe the present law is adequate to protect religious beliefs.

Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords?

In relation to the House of Lords, our policy for reform there is set out in our Manifesto which is available on the Labour Party website -

Evidence-based Policy-making

Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?

I believe that evidence is important in deciding whether or not a policy is appropriate or not - of course people should be entitled to their views.

Libel Law

Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence?

In relation to Libel Law, you may be interested in the attached statement issued by the Ministry of Justice dated 23 March[5] .

Science Funding

In October 2006, when he was Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Alistair Darling gave a speech to the Royal Society in which he talked about science's effect on the economy. Darling stated that "Science is vital for our future", and talking about government investment that "Our investment is not for short-term payback. The money often takes years to feed through. But, when it does, the rewards are huge."[6]

Same-Sex Marriage

Alistair Darling voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at both its second reading in February 2013[7] and its third reading in May 2013[8].



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