Craig Whittaker

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Craig Whittaker is the Conservative MP for Calder Valley. He entered Parliament at the 2010 general election, the previous MP, Chris McCafferty (Labour) having stepped down.

Abortion

Mr Whittaker 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. 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.[1]

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 Craig Whittaker voted against allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease[2]. If allowed, mitochondrial donation would be regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) meaning that there would be ongoing assessment of the safety and efficacy of such procedures. An October 2014 briefing report by the 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]. The majority of MPs voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation.

Sex Education

In May 2011 Mr Whittaker voted in favour of Nadine Dorries' Sex Education (Required Content) "10 minute" Bill[5]. The Bill stated that "such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity"[6]. It was criticised for only applying to sex education for girls, not boys, with critics also pointing to evidence that abstinence-only sex education (which does not necessarily lead to abstinence itself) does not protect young people from unwanted pregnancies or STIs[7] (although this was not a bill advocating abstinence-only sex education, it would have meant that the only required elements of sex education would be basic information on reproduction[8], plus this new content on abstinence, with further content being up to the individual school)[9]. The Bill passed its first reading by 67 votes to 61, but had little chance of becoming law and was withdrawn in January 2012 shortly before its second reading[10].

Same-Sex Marriage

In March 2012 Mr Whittaker signed the Coalition for Marriage petition which stated:

"I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it."[11]

The Coalition for Marriage describes itself as "an umbrella group of individuals and organisations ... backed by politicians, lawyers, academics and religious leaders"[12]. They are supported by the Evangelical Alliance[13] and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey[14], and have connections with other Christian groups[15].

The group claims it "draws upon a substantial body of evidence". However, science and evidence-based politics blogger Martin Robbins described their argument as "confused, irrational and ultimately self-defeating"[16].

Mr Whittaker subsequently voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its second reading in February 2013[17] and its third reading in May 2013[18].

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=Craig_Whittaker
  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.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110504/debtext/110504-0001.htm#stpa_o51
  6. http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-12/sexeducationrequiredcontent.html
  7. http://www.thetwentyfirstfloor.com/?p=2325
  8. http://www.drpetra.co.uk/blog/what-do-we-want-from-sex-and-relationships-education/
  9. http://educationforchoice.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/abstain-from-abstinence-please-dorries.html
  10. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jan/20/nadine-dorries-sexual-abstinence-bill-withdrawn
  11. http://c4m.org.uk/signatures/
  12. http://c4m.org.uk/aboutus/
  13. http://www.eauk.org/articles/coalition-for-marriage-launched.cfm
  14. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17102352
  15. http://bengoldacre.posterous.com/thinking-out-loud-who-are-the-coalition-for-m
  16. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2012/feb/20/1
  17. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=Craig_Whittaker
  18. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=Craig_Whittaker

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