Caroline Spelman is the Conservative MP for Meriden. She entered Parliament in 1997 and was Conservative Party Chairman from July 2007 until January 2009. Following the 2010 general election she was made Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the coalition government.
In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Caroline Spelman voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 20 weeks against scientific and medical consensus which is currently 24 weeks. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, in keeping with scientific and medical consensus, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill.
In February 2015 Caroline Spelman 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. 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. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed. After clearing both Houses mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.
Caroline Spelman is a trustee of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, an organisation allied with the British Conservative Party, established in 1990. The organisation wishes to unite the Christians of the British Conservative Party and to recruit more Christians into the Party.
Spelman spoke at the 2003 'Jesus and the earth: the Gospel and the future of the environment' conference calling for a reform the debt relief process and a greater commitment to international sustainable development.
Spelman also gave a keynote speech at a 'Trumpet Call' prayer gathering at Birmingham NEC in May 2006 which was concerned with "praying to cut crime".
Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE)
Spelman was one of a number of MPs who registered their employment of interns from the Christian charity group Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE). Described by the Independent as a 'right wing Christian group', CARE were investigated by the Charity Commission and the House of Commons standards watchdog for lobbying activities, specifically related to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
CARE also campaigned against the repeal of Section 28, which banned the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools, and helped defeat laws on assisted dying in the House of Lords. Its work has been condemned in the Lords as "propaganda".
Spelman said her CARE intern had "nothing to do with the HFE Bill". A spokesman for the MP added that "The intern does constituency and casework."
Caroline Spelman interviewed on the issue forced marriage: http://www.wpradio.co.uk/mp3s/CarolineSpelman.mp3
Following a July 2010 interview with Sky News Sunday Live in which Spelman opposed a law banning wearing veils and burkhas, newspaper reports portrayed her comments misleadingly. For example, a Daily Telegraph headline: "Caroline Spelman: wearing burka can be ‘empowering’". In fact, Spelman started her reply saying:
- "I take a strong view on this actually. I don’t, living in this country as a woman want to be told what I can and can’t wear. That is something which both myself and Sayeeda Warsi have argued very strongly that one of the things we pride ourselves on in this country is being free and being free to choose what you wear is a part of that so actually banning the burkha is absolutely contrary I think to what this country is all about."
Her only use of the word "empowering" quoted by the Telegraph was in the following context:
- "I think it is something you have to understand the actual culture and it was probably only when I went there [to Afghanistan] and spent some time amongst women that I really understood that for them it’s a choice. For them the burkha confers dignity, it’s their choice, they choose to go out dressed in a burkha and I understand that it is a different culture from mine but the fact is in this country women want to be free to choose whether or not to cover their heads, whether or not to go out in the morning wearing a burkha, that’s for them. We are a free country, we attach importance to people being a free and for a woman it is empowering to be able to choose each morning when you wake up what you wear."
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