Eluned Parrott is a Liberal Democrat member of the Welsh Assembly for South Wales Central. She entered the Assembly following the May 2011 elections. In the 2010 UK general election she stood as the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Vale of Glamorgan.
Skeptical Voter Questionnaire Response
1 - Homeopathy
I believe that the NHS should only fund treatments that are based on good medical evidence.
2 - Creationism
As a Christian I believe that children should be taught about the creation story in the context of their RE lessons, but under no circumstances should it be presented as an accepted scientific theory.
3 - Religious belief
There has to be balance in society, whereby we recognise that one man's comedy is another man's persecution. The right to free speech is an ideal I hold dear, but with rights come responsibilities to use them sensitively, and freedom to hold religious beliefs is also a basic human right. Where a line is crossed and comedy becomes ridicule or harrassment, whether it be on religious, racial or any other grounds, the victim has the right to expect that they will be protected by the law.
4 - Government Advice
Academics have a right, and indeed a duty to present the results of their research in a balanced and unbiased way. However there is a difference between publishing your work in a respected journal and briefing against your employer in the public press. If, in your role as an advisor, you believe your employer to be misguided, it is your role to demonstrate the error of their ways to them. If they ignore your advice, the appropriate step would surely be to resign. I can't imagine there are many employers who would tolerate employees criticising them in the press, however fair that criticism is. You have a right to free speech - they have a right not to employ you.
5 - Religious courts
Sharia courts already operate in areas of family law within the Muslim community in Britain. Divorce, for example, has religious undertones in the standard British law system because it is in and of itself a religious institution. Where both parties are happy to abide by a Sharia agreement then I don't have a problem with these courts operating in this way. I do not believe there is an appropriate place for religiously-based legal systems to gain currency within other areas of the law.
6 - Animal testing
At present, animal testing is necessary for developing safe medicines. I am aware, however, that tissue engineering technology is expanding at a good rate and that some research areas where animal testing was previously considered necessary are now finding alternatives. I welcome that progress.
7 - scientific evidence
Where one piece of scientific evidence seems to fly in the face of experience or other research, it must be followed up and subjected to the normal academic scrutiny processes. Governments should base decisions on the available evidence, but if there is reason for doubt or a general dearth of evidence, further research should be commissioned.
8 - Abortion time limits
Abortion time limits need to balance the medical and scientific consensus with practical considerations and the needs of the patient.
9 - House of Lords
No. I support the fundamental reform of the House of Lords to create an elected second chamber. While religious leaders can make a constructive contribution to the debate on many of the subjects facing our societies, I can see no reason why they ought to be automatically included within the decision-making process. It is undemocratic and inappropriate in our society.
10 - Libel
I am not convinced that a change in the letter of the law is required, but perhaps better guidance on how to apply that law should be issued. Our press seem to prioritise scrutinising celebrity marriages over political or legal issues, and in those circumstances I can only imagine that we'll see a 'public interest' defence being abused by the tabloids.
I hope these answers are sufficient for you, but if you have any further queries, please let me know. People can respond to my answers by posting comments on my blog at www.elunedparrott.blogspot.com or on my Facebook page at Eluned Parrott for the Vale.
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