The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report of October 2007 had found no good evidence of change since the limit was set in 1990, and hence no new reason for a reduction. However, it acknowledged that this was only one of many factors to be taken into account when legislating, and did not make any recommendations as to how MPs should vote.
David Howarth signed the February 2009 Early Day Motion 754: MMR Vaccine and the Media supporting the use of the MMR vaccine. The motion expressed disappointment with the reporting of the vaccine by Jeni Barnett on her LBC radio show in January 2009, and expressed the hope that future reporting of the issue of MMR would be less sensationalist and more evidence-based.
Freedom of Religion
On 6th May 2008, David Howarth voted in favour of a Lords amendment to abolish the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel. The amendment was passed by a vote of 378 to 57.
During the debate on the amendment, Howarth spoke in favour. Amongst his points were that having blasphemy laws on the books, even if they were not used, meant that it was difficult to criticise other states for their use of blasphemy laws. He also expressed the opinion that:
- Given the fundamental differences about religion — not just between religions, but between those who are religious and those who are not — we have to find a framework with which we can all live, if we are to get along. The one that says that the criminal law will deal with people who make remarks about religion that offend but do not harm people will send us in the wrong direction and make maintaining a cohesive society more difficult.
David Howarth was one of 79 MPs who signed Early Day Motion 377 noting the achievements of Charles Darwin, and calling for Darwin's birthday to be designated a public holiday to honour "one of the fathers of modern science and one of Britain's greatest, if not the greatest, scientific minds."
Libel Law Reform
In January 2010, David Howarth 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.
On 30th March 2010, in a House of Commons committee debate, David Howarth voted against The Conditional Fee Agreements (Amendment) Order 2010. The order would have limited success fees paid to lawyers in libel cases to 10% and was an initial stage in libel reform proposed by Jack Straw. The rejection by the committee will mean that the measure will now go to a full Parliamentary vote.