Gareth Epps

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Gareth Epps is the 2015 Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Keighley. He previously stood for election in Witney in 2001 and in Reading East in 2010.

Skeptical Voter Candidate Survey 2010

In response to the Candidate Survey sent on the 9th April 2010, Mr Epps responded as follows.


1. Do you support the use of public funds to provide unproven health products such as homeopathy?

In general - not if they are unproven.

2. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?

Not entirely - though this is important. I believe firmly in a woman's right to choose; scientific/medical evidence can be interpreted in different ways by different sides of the argument.


1. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?

Yes - reluctantly and subject to legal safeguards that only testing that is strictly necessary is allowed.


1. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?

No. It is not - simple as that.

2. Should religious courts such as Sharia and Beth Din be recognised as alternative systems within UK law?


3. Do you believe that religious belief should be legally protected from ridicule?


4. Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords?

No - it should be 100% elected and that's our manifesto commitment.

Evidence-based Policymaking

1. Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly without fear of being sacked?

Absolutely. I was proud that we got Prof David Nutt to speak at Reading University in January; one of the first public talks he has given.

2. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?

Yes - and though political imperatives have their place, scientific evidence should not be treated with contempt as it has on occasions by this Government.

Libel Law

1. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence?

Yes - that is our policy.

Digital Economy Bill

1. What are your views on the digial economy bill?

I can only repeat the reply I've just sent to another constituent:

The Liberal Democrats have the most up-to-date and liberal policy on freedom, creativity and the internet of any of the parties (see our Spring Conference emergency motion of which I was a co-sponsor). That led to our vocal opposition to the web-blocking provisions of the Bill and our MPs voting against the whole Bill at 3rd reading.

Our party's position is not 100% against everything in the Bill, but we have more concerns than the other parties, and our MPs were the only ones whipped against the Bill at 3rd Reading. All the other parties voted for the Bill (even if a few of their rebels did not) and the Lib Dems voted against the Bill.

The other points I would make are:

Webblocking: the LibDems are opposing web blocking unlike Labour. Our stand would lift the threat of blocking from all manner of websites from community noticeboards to YouTube, and the fact that this was ever proposed shows how out of touch and illiberal Labour are. [The minister responsible, Stephen Timms has been ridiculed for getting IP address (Internet Protocol) muddled with IP (Intellectual Property) in a standard letter to objectors].

Disconnection: there are widespread fears that the disconnection measures proposed are arbitrary and disproportionate. Many internet connections, from a family PC to a public wifi service, are shared so the Government will be imposing collective punishment for individual sins. The Lib Dem position is not against all disconnection ever, but our position is stronger against disconnection than the other parties.

We have a presumption against disconnection. Our Peers moved the power to disconnect from the whim of the Secretary of State to the rigour of the courts. Our MPs have said they will veto any implementation of disconnection powers until there has been full discussion and debate, which there is not time for in this parliament. The powers cannot be implemented until the technical measures go through in the next parliament.

Lib Dem MPs have set out specific conditions which would have to apply before any disconnection could be implemented, including a minimum of a year's notice in writing (itself a challenge to write to an online user!) AND the need to prove guilt not simply accuse. This may not be as far as some opponents of disconnection would like to go, but it is the most comprehensive set of protections for internet users proposed by any of the main parties.

Next steps: the reality is that the arcane parliamentary procedure plus Labour's majority means there is a limit to what the LibDems could ever achieve at this stage, especially with Tories supporting the Bill (Labservatives in action!). We are not the bad guys. We did not propose this legislation!

The important thing is to get as many Lib Dem MPs as possible in the next Parliament because they are web-users' best safeguard against Labour introducing arbitrary disconnection powers. We are also the only party committed to reforming the voting system and the parliamentary process so that Labour's railroading of this Bill can never happen again.

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