David Willetts

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David Willetts was the Conservative MP for Havant from 1992 until he stood down in 2015.

Following the general election of 2010 and the formation of the coalition government, Willetts was made Minister for Universities and Science. At the time of the appointment, Mark Henderson, Science Editor of The Times, wrote that he thought this was "one of the best appointments science could have hoped for under the Lib-Con coalition" and that Willetts had also "thought deeply about how the evidence-gathering that is axiomatic to science might play a wider role in policy-making"[1].

Evidence-based Policy

In an interview in June 2010[2][3] Willetts said:

"I want this Government to have effective policies that tackle Britain’s problems and that means they have to be evidence-based. ... This was not just put in because the scientific community wanted it. It was put in because it’s very good guidance to an approach we think we have to take to tackle Britain’s problems."

And:

"I'm very keen to see the scientific way of thinking as widespread as possible. I don't claim to be a qualified scientist, but I try in my recent book to use the scientific method. I personally think that as society has become more diverse, with a greater range of religious and cultural traditions, evidence-based arguments drawing on scientific method are one of the most important ways we have of reaching common conclusions because it's a universal."

Science Policy

Short interview in Research Fortnight, April 2015: https://www.researchprofessional.com/media/pdf/RF455_election_supplement.pdf (p7)

Accelerated Christian Education

In April 2013, Jonny Scaramanga, who blogs about fundamentalism in the UK, noted that he had a "frustrating run of correspondence" with David Willetts on the topic of Accelerated Christian Education: http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/i-quit/

Climate Change

David Willetts has signed a number of Early Day Motions indicating that he agrees that climate change is occurring and is primarily due to the release of greenhouse gases. These motions include:

  • EDM 58: Climate Change (signed November 2006)[4],
  • EDM 1019: Climate Change And Energy Production (signed April 2008)[5],
  • EDM 689: Solar Energy (signed March 2009)[6].

Same-Sex Marriage

David Willetts voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at both its second reading in February 2013[7] and its third reading in May 2013[8].

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 David Willetts 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[9]. 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[10]. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed[11]. After clearing both Houses mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.

References

  1. http://timesonline.typepad.com/science/2010/05/thoughts-on-david-willetts-the-new-science-minister.html
  2. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/article7146346.ece
  3. http://timesonline.typepad.com/science/2010/06/david-willetts-interview-the-extended-version.html
  4. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2006-07/58
  5. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2007-08/1019
  6. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2008-09/689
  7. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=David_Willetts
  8. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=David_Willetts
  9. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2015-02-03&number=147&mpn=David_Willetts
  10. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/2014-10-01_Mitochondrial_donation__an_introductory_briefing_note_-_final.pdf
  11. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31063500

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