Bob Spink was the Conservative MP for Castle Point from 1992 until 1997 when he lost the seat to Christine Butler (Labour). He regained the seat in 2001, and in 2008 he left the Conservative Party becoming first a UKIP, and then an independent MP. He lost his seat in the 2010 general election to Rebecca Harris (Conservative).
During his time as an MP he sat on the Science and Technology Select Committee.
- 1 Biographical background
- 2 Healthcare and Medical Research
- 3 Religion
- 4 Libel Law Reform
- 5 References
- 6 External Links
- 7 Further Information - Your help needed!
Spink attended Holycroft Secondary Modern School in Keighley and Southall Technical College. At the University of Manchester, he gained an BSc Hons (1st) in 1972. At Cranfield University, he gained an MSc in Industrial Engineering and Administration in 1975 and PhD in Economics and Management in 1988.
Spink joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1964. He was an engineer for EMI Electronics Ltd from 1966-77, then became an Industrial Management Consultant in 1977 for Harold Whitehead and Partners. From 1980-4, he was Director of Seafarer Navigation International Ltd (eventually bought by Standard Communications) in Bournemouth, and from 1989-93, he was a non-executive Director of Bournemouth International Airport. From 1984-93, he was a Management Consultant. From 1997 to 2001, he worked for Harold Whitehead in Windsor. He was a county councillor in Essex from 1985-92.
He was elected as the Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Castle Point in Essex in 1992, lost his seat in 1997, but regained it in 2001. He resigned the Conservative whip in March 2008, and in April 2008 he was reported to have defected to the United Kingdom Independence Party, becoming that party's first and only MP. In November 2008 he was redesignated as an Independent, on the grounds that UKIP had no 'whip'. In March 2009 he apparently disassociated himself from the party, stating that he had never been a member.
Healthcare and Medical Research
In 2007 the Science and Technology select committee conducted an inquiry into Scientific Evidence Relating to the Abortion Act 1967. The resulting report from this inquiry concluded that while survival rates at 24 weeks (the current upper limit for abortion) and over have improved since 1990, survival rates (viability) have not done so below that gestational point. The Committee concluded that there is no scientific basis – on the grounds on viability – to reduce the upper time limit.
Bob Spink as a member of this committee and together with Nadine Dorries published a minority report to the main committee's report, questioning some of the key findings and included an allegation that Dr Ben Goldacre had been passed information from the inquiry in breach of parliamentary procedure. He had in fact obtained this publicly available information through the House of Commons website .
Spink is critical of Embryo research and expanded on his views during a 2005 debate in parliament:
- "Animal-human hybrids and chimeras are not science fiction. They have crept up on an unsuspecting and unwelcoming public, and have caused worldwide concern. Indeed, the issue was raised in the European Parliament last week. The Donaldson report of 2000 stated that those creations are not covered by the 1990 Act, and rightly recommended prohibition. However, some people at the HFEA and the Department of Health want to legalise them for research purposes. Dark forces are plotting to make animal-human hybrids and chimeras acceptable."
Animals in Medical Research
In 2006, Bob Spink seconded 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".
In January 2009, Spink proposed Early Day Motion 569: Safety of Medicines which stated:
- That this House believes that the safety of medicines should be established by the most reliable methods available in order to reduce the large and increasing toll of serious adverse drug reactions; and calls on the Government to initiate an unprecedented comparison of currently required animal tests with a set of human biology-based tests, as required by the Safety of Medicines (Evaluation) Bill, to see which is the most effective means to predict the safety of medicines for patients.
During a heated 2006 parliamentary debate about discrimination, Spink stated:
- "I wish to make several important points. We are still a Christian country. More than three quarters of people declared in the 2001 census that they considered themselves to be Christians. Our strong Christian heritage is a key part of our charm and strength as a nation. It has engendered our tolerance and our fight for the human rights, freedom and democracy that have helped to shape a better world.
- We are not multicultural. Our culture and traditions are British with a Christian basis. That has served us and the rest of the world well over the centuries. Our Christian traditions guide how we relate to fellow men and give us a strong belief in the dignity and worth of every individual human being, regardless of background, race, sex, or who they are. Those values and traditions are sadly missing in some of the cultures that we are being driven to assimilate into our society. I need make no apology for stating that people who come to this country to live should respect our culture and our time-honoured standards."
Spink went on to note:
- "Evangelical Christian groups want the freedom to proclaim the gospel wherever they go, and I have no problem with that. Secularist groups cannot bear to be preached at; they find all religion abhorrent—so be it—but how will the commission decide which interests come first?"
On 6th May 2008, Bob Spink voted against a Lords amendment to abolish the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel. The amendment was nonetheless passed by a vote of 378 to 57.
Atheist Bus Campaign
Following the adverts bought by the Atheist Bus Campaign on public transport in January 2009, Spink proposed Early Day Motion 403 calling the adverts "religiously offensive and morally unhelpful", and seconded Early Day Motion 424 claiming that the rationale behind the adverts was that non-religious people can be less careful about their lifestyle choices and life's consequences.
In November 2009, Spink proposed Early Day Motion 288: Sharia Councils And The Single Legal System, which stated:
- That this House notes the increasing use of Sharia councils in some circumstances in the UK; further notes that a single legal system operates in the UK under the authority of the Crown; recognises the importance of rigorously adhering to and maintaining a single legal system to ensure the equal treatment of all citizens; and calls on the Government to ensure there is no acceptance in any way of any alternative legal systems in the UK.
Libel Law Reform
In December 2009, Bob Spink signed Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law. 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.
The motion was tabled following the recent formation of Libel Reform Coalition, which has the backing of Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense about Science. Sense about Science have been campaigning in defense of a member of its board of trustees, author and journalist Simon Singh, who has been sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association. They issued a statement entitled "The law has no place in scientific disputes".
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