Caroline Lucas

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Caroline Lucas is the joint leader of the Green Party (with Jonathan Bartley), and MP for Brighton, Pavilion (first elected in 2010). She was formerly MEP for South East England, and was sole leader of the Green Party from 2008 until 2012.

Skeptical Voter Questionnaire Response 2010

1. Do you support the use of NHS money to provide unproven health products such as homeopathy?

We believe all treatments should be independently assesed for effectiveness and safety before being made available for use on the NHS. More details on this policy are available at http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfsshe.html#H331

2. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?

No.

3. Do you believe that religious belief should be legally protected from ridicule?

No, we believe freedom of expression is a fundamental right.

4. Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly?

Yes, they very much should, otherwise what's the point of having an adviser?!

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

No. Greens believe religion should be a private matter for indivudals. We demand the separation of religion from state and education.

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

Phasing out animal-based testing is Green Party policy. Part of this includes a masive increase in funding for alternatives to animal testing. You can read our policies in detail at http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfssar.html

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

Science is an ongoing process, there is never 100% certainty, theories develop as new findings emerge. That being said, decisions have to be made on the best science currently available. Greens believe in being cautious but rational and would depend on evidence-based policy making.

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

As a party we don't have a policy view on this. Abortions carry a risk to women, as do all medical procedures, and so shouldn't be undertaken lightly. Our full policy can be viewed at http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfsshe.html#HE336

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

No. Greens seek fundamental constitutional reform which includes a fully elected upper house, so religious leaders would be removed.

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

Yes, very much so. Freedom of expression is a key right in our view. Current libel law has a 'chilling effect' on online and offline publishing.

Alternative Medicine

In a blog entry dated May 31st 2009, titled "Complementary therapies - Greens ahead of the game on health (again)"[1], Dr Lucas welcomed the recommendation of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence that patients be offered complementary therapies on the NHS. She stated that "the Green Party has been way ahead of the game for years in advocating this greater integration of complementary and alternative medicines into NHS services". Talking about complementary and alternative medicine practitioners in Brighton she stated that "Green Party would fully integrate their services and expertise into NHS treatment plans, not only improving patient choices but helping to boost this important sector of the local economy". On the issue of evidence she wrote that "Complementary and alternative medicine may be written off by drug companies and other sceptics as 'mumbo jumbo' medicine, but recent evidence strongly contradicts such claims."

On 4th March 2010, the blog entry seemed to no longer be available on Dr Lucas's website. The full text read as follows:

Complementary therapies - Greens ahead of the game on health (again)
31 May 2009
It was interesting to see last week the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence - commonly known as NICE - recommending patients with persistent back pain be offered complementary therapies on the NHS.
Going against the grain, the watchdog took a brave decision in endorsing acupuncture, massages and other exercises for treating this common condition.
When you consider that some £1.5 million is spent each year on treating back pain, and that this initiative could actually save money - by reducing reliance on other techniques - I believe it makes complete sense.
Whilst the best treatment programmes probably dip into both conventional and alternative medicine (reliance on alternative alone would probably be unwise) the Green Party has been way ahead of the game for years in advocating this greater integration of complementary and alternative medicines into NHS services.
Here in Brighton we are lucky to be served by an excellent network of complementary and alternative medicine practicioners.
The Green Party would fully integrate their services and expertise into NHS treatment plans, not only improving patient choices but helping to boost this important sector of the local economy.
Complementary and alternative medicine may be written off by drug companies and other sceptics as "mumbo jumbo" medicine, but recent evidence strongly contradicts such claims.
A little reported year-long pilot scheme in Northern Ireland recently found complementary and alternative medicine offers significant health improvements to NHS patients.
After receiving a range of such treatments on referral from their GP, 81% of patients reported an improvement in physical health and 79% in mental health.
The majority, 84%, directly linked improvements in their health and wellbeing to the alternative treatments they had received. 94% said they would recommend it to others with a similar condition.
Therapies offered included acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, reflexology and aromatherapy administered by local practitioners.
The scheme was the brainchild of the excellent social enterprise Get Well UK ( http://www.getwelluk.com ) which campaigns to improve access to complementary therapy on the public health service.
The study backs up our own findings: people we talk to time and again say they want to be offered complimentary medicines, either on their own or in combination with other treatments. They want the choice.
But choice is not something easily associated with Labour's current record on health.
They're selling hospitals and health care services to private companies which actually costs tax payers more money, and reduces the ability of clinical staff to provide good health care.
The supposed promotion of choice offered by this ill-lanned sell off does little to ensure that efficient - and effective - health care is provided locally and actually limits the options available to many people.
The reversal of this healthcare privatisation is a key priority for the Green Party - and a major focus of our current manifesto pledge ( http://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/health.html )
We want to give people their choice back.

Homeopathy

In July 2010, Dr Lucas initially signed Early Day Motion 284: BMA Annual Representative Meeting Motions on Homeopathy which expressed concern at a number of motions to be put forward at the British Medical Association's annual representative meeting calling "for no further commissioning of, nor funding for, homeopathic remedies in the NHS", and "thinks that an integrated NHS, which employs the best from the orthodox and complementary ... could deliver better and more cost-effective outcomes at a time of financial prudence".

She posted a brief justification for signing the motion on Twitter:

EDM is about lack of BMA's consultation & argues that local NHS better placed to know patient needs, based on objective clinical assessment[2]

However, she later withdrew her signature from the motion[3].

Reply to voter survey e-mail received 11/04/2010

1/ Will you be working to ensure electoral reform is put in place to ensure that every vote counts through proportional representation?

Yes. Green Party policy is to seek proportional forms of electoral systems at all levels of government.


2/ Will you ensure that political, personal, social and economic interests are secondary to any decision that seeks to halt climate change?

Climate change and environmental matters are utmost concerns for the Green Party. However any measures we would introduce to prevent irreversible damage to our environment would be phased in a way to mitigate social & economic upheaval. This would need to be balanced with the urgent need to change how we live our lives as soon as possible.


3/ Do you agree that whaling, in any form - whether controlled or otherwise, should never be re-introduced and that in addition, the law should be fully enforced?

Greens are opposed to whaling and Caroline Lucas has been working in the European Parliament to end so-called 'scientific whaling' and uphold the moratorium on whaling.


4/ Do you think that government should fund faith schools?

No. We don't believe publicly funded schools should be run by religious organisations. We do believe schools should allow children to practise their faith in schools, if they choose to, for example by providing prayer space. In our view privately-funded schools run by religious organisations should be inclusive and become part of local authority admissions systems.


5/ Should publicly funded faith schools be allowed to discriminate in their admissions and employment?

No, and neither should privately run faith schools.


6/ Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?

No.


7/ How would you vote on assisted dying for the terminally ill?

Greens believe people have a right to an assisted death within a very detailed framework. This can be read in full on our policy site at http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfsshe.html#HE340


8/ Should anti-discrimination and equality legislation make religious groups exempt from regulations that other organisations would have to follow?

 No.


9/ Should religious leaders have privileged access to decision makers?

No more than any other community activists and leaders.


10/ Would you vote to retain or remove bishops from the house of Lords?

Greens seek fundamental constitutional reform which includes a fully elected upper house, so bishops would be removed.


11/ Do you support the use of public funds to provide unproven alternative ‘treatments’ such as homeopathy?

We believe all treatments should be independent assesed for effectiveness and safety before being made available for use on the NHS. More details on this policy are available at http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfsshe.html#H331


12/ Should Sharia Law be allowed as an alternative system within UK law?

No. Greens believe religion should be a private matter for indivudals. We demand the separation of religion from state and education.


13/ Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger ’public interest’ defense?

Yes, very much so.


14/ Would you do everything in your power to ensure the BBC maintains its position as the world leader in public broadcasting, including ensuring that BBC6Music and the Asian Network are maintained?

We absolutely believe in maintaining the BBC. In fact we would seek to replace the license fee with inflation-linked payments from general taxation - this is fairer in a digital world and prevents license reviews from being a way for the government to exert undue pressure. Greens also strongly believe that the BBC should be protected from state interference and so would create a democratically appointed Public Service Media Council to manage the BBC's funding settlement and relationship with other broadcasters. As a result we wouldn't seek to direct the BBC as to how it allocates resources between various of its own stations and channels. That being said, we do see immense value in 6Music and the Asian Network.


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

Science is an ongoing process, there is never 100% certainty, theories develop as new findings emerge. That being said, decision have to be made on the best science currently available. Greens believe in being cautious but rational and would depend on evidence-based policy making.


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

As a party we don't have a policy view on this. Abortions carry a risk to women, as do all medical procedures, and so shouldn't be undertaken lightly. Our full policy can be viewed at http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mfsshe.html#HE336


17/ Do you agree that all decisions taken concerning British, European and Worldwide fishing should ensure the recovery of fish populations and more importantly, the ocean environments, before any political, social or economic interests?

Yes, absolutely. The short-termist thinking which has resulted in fish stock decimation is tragic. Fish are a vital part of our ecosystem and a critical food source for many of the poorest nations. We absolutely have to reign in unsustainable fishing.


18/ Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly without fear of being sacked?

Yes, they very much should, otherwise what's the point of having an adviser?!


Reply to voter questions, 30/04/2010 (answered by "Jason" from her campaign group)

Is it right to support the religious ethos of Faith schools and Academies for the moral education of our young?

We believe in the separation of church and state.

We recognise the right of everyone to practise their faith. However we would abolish requirements for a compulsory daily act of worship. Those schools that continue to hold acts of worship will need to provide alternative activities for those choosing not to take part. Religious instruction (as distinct from religious education for understanding different religions) should only take place outside of school curriculum time.

No publicly-funded school shall be run by a religious organisation and will be prohibited from delivering religious instruction in any form or encouraging adherence to any particular religious belief.

Privately-funded schools run by religious organisations must reflect the inclusive nature of British society and become part of the Local authority admissions system. This non-discriminatory approach will be extended to staff who must not be discriminated against in faith schools due to their own faith either in seeking employment or during employment.'

We oppose all opt-outs from equality and anti- discrimination laws by religious organisations and remove special treatment allowing faith schools to promote homophobia on the grounds of religion.


Can the potential benefits of GM foods and stem cell research outweigh the environmental and ethical dangers?

Within very strict conditions, the Green Party supports research into the benefits of genetic engineering and stem cells. There are ethical and environmental risks of their use and so there is an urgent need for informed public debate on these issues. We also seek a moratorium on the release of genetically engineered organisms into the enivronment until the effect of such releases is better understood by industry, research establishments and government.

Trafigura and Libel Reform

In May 2010, shortly after being elected as MP for Brighton, Pavilion, Dr Lucas proposed Early Day Motion 118: Trafigura and Shipping Hazardous Waste to the Ivory Coast[4]. The motion stated:

That this House, concerned that due to the start of fresh legal proceedings in the Netherlands on 14 and 17 May 2010 concerning the multinational commodities trading group Trafigura, including allegations that UK nationals and UK firms may have been involved in illegal waste shipments and a subsequent cover-up and that payments were made to truck drivers in return for favourable witness statements and given that this is not being fully reported in the United Kingdom because of the chilling effect of the UK's libel laws, calls on the Government to launch a full inquiry into the allegations against Trafigura and to review the libel laws to ensure that this matter can be reported fully in the UK.

Science Funding

In October 2010, Caroline Lucas 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".[5]

Electromagnetic Radiation and Health

Dr Lucas was listed as being on the Board of Trustees of the EM Radiation Research Trust[6]. Andy Lewis of the Quackometer looked at the EM Radiation Research Trust in 2007: http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2007/05/wi-fi-quackery-and-parliament.html

Choice at the End of Life

Dr Lucas is a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Choice at the End of Life[7][8]. "The APPG on Choice at the End of Life is interested in both our current rights at the end of life and also in extending those rights in certain situations and within safeguards. We believe that all people approaching the end of life should have access to good quality palliative care, and have access to clear information on their rights and choices around access to care and treatment decisions. We also believe that terminally ill mentally competent adults should have the option of an assisted death subject to strict safeguards."[9]

Drugs Policy

Dr Lucas started a government e-petition which called "on the Government to commission an authoritative and independent cost-benefit analysis and impact assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 within the next 12 months, in order to provide the evidence for Parliament to pursue a more effective drugs policy in the future."[10]

In October 2014 Dr Lucas co-authored an article on drugs policy with Julian Huppert for the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/julian-huppert/drug-policy-caroline-lucas-julian-huppert_b_6069420.html

They wrote:

Yes, drugs can be harmful - whether they are legal or illegal. But we should focus on reducing the harms done, not continue with policies based on hard-line posturing and which have repeatedly failed to protect British citizens.
That is why we are leading a debate in Parliament today to argue for an evidence-based approach. Starting with a move away from punitive sanctions towards a new preventative, health-based system.

Abortion

In December 2014 Dr Lucas proposed Early Day Motion 612: Buffer Zones Around Abortion Clinics and Pregnancy Advisory Bureaux. The Motion stated:

That this House notes with concern the recent escalation in anti-abortion activity targeted at women and staff attending abortion clinics and pregnancy advisory services; further notes that approaching and recording women and staff, alongside the distribution of misleading information and distressing images, intimidates women and jeopardises access to legal healthcare services; believes in upholding the right to peaceful protest; further believes that the right to peaceful protest should not interfere with the fundamental right for women to make individual reproductive choices; further notes that campaigns against women exercising their sexual health rights can continue without occupying the space immediately outside clinics; supports the British Pregnancy Advisory Service's Back Off campaign to implement buffer zones outside reproductive health clinics as a means of ensuring that women are not harassed or obstructed from accessing confidential advice and treatment; and calls on the Government to bring forward legislation to protect the rights of women to access lawful healthcare by enabling the introduction and implementation of buffer zones around clinics offering abortion and sexual health services.[11]

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 Caroline Lucas 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[12]. 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[13]. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed[14]. After clearing both Houses mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.

Same-Sex Marriage

Caroline Lucas voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at both its second reading in February 2013[15] and its third reading in May 2013[16].

References

  1. http://www.carolinelucas.com/?q=node/102
  2. http://twitter.com/CarolineLucas/status/19834521552
  3. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/284
  4. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/118
  5. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/767
  6. http://archive.radiationresearch.org/supporters.asp
  7. http://www.appg-endoflifechoice.org.uk/who_we_are
  8. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/choice-at-the-end-of-life.htm
  9. http://www.appg-endoflifechoice.org.uk/our_aim
  10. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/45969
  11. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/612
  12. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2015-02-03&number=147&mpn=Caroline_Lucas
  13. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/2014-10-01_Mitochondrial_donation__an_introductory_briefing_note_-_final.pdf
  14. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31063500
  15. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=Caroline_Lucas
  16. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=Caroline_Lucas

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