Jim Shannon

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Jim Shannon is the DUP MP for Strangford. He entered Westminster at the May 2010 general election, the previous MP, Iris Robinson (DUP) having stepped down. Shannon also served from June 1998 to August 2010 as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Strangford. In 2010 he was appointed Shadow DUP Spokesperson on Health.


During a House of Commons debate on religious education on 17 May 2011, suggested a greater need for religious education in schools in response to declining church attendance. [1]

Sex Education

In May 2011 Mr Shannon voted in favour of Nadine Dorries' Sex Education (Required Content) "10 minute" Bill[2]. The Bill stated that "such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity"[3]. 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[4] (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[5], plus this new content on abstinence, with further content being up to the individual school)[6]. The Bill passed its first reading by 67 votes to 61, but had little chance of becoming law and was withdrawn in January 2012 shortly before its second reading[7].

Same-Sex Marriage

In 2012 Mr Shannon, like all the other DUP MPs, 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."[8]

The Coalition for Marriage describes itself as "an umbrella group of individuals and organisations ... backed by politicians, lawyers, academics and religious leaders"[9]. They are supported by the Evangelical Alliance[10] and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey[11], and have connections with other Christian groups[12].

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"[13].

Mr Shannon subsequently voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its second reading in February 2013[14] and its third reading in May 2013[15].



Mr Shannon 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.[16]

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 Jim Shannon voted against allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease[17]. 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[18]. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed[19]. The majority of MPs voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation.


In July 2012, Mr Shannon presented a petition from his constituents on the topic of homeopathy to the House of Commons. The petition was in support of homeopathy in the face of potential changes to the Medicine Act. Mr Shannon added his own comment that "A small but well co-ordinated group with an anti-homeopathy agenda must be resisted by MPs and by Government. Choice on access to homeopathic medicines is paramount, and it must be retained and enshrined by Government."[20]

Ayurvedic Medicine

In October 2016, Mr Shannon signed Early Day Motion 507: Celebration of First Ayurveda Day on 27 October 2016[21], which states a belief that "Ayurveda's integration into the NHS would ensure freedom of choice in healthcare for the populace; and calls on the Government to introduce an Ayurveda Chair." (Information about Ayurvedic medicine here.)

Herbal Medicine

Mr Shannon contributed to a July 2013 Westminster Hall debate on the topic of herbal medicine regulation: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130709/halltext/130709h0001.htm#13070942000083

Nomination of David Tredinnick for Health Committee Chair

In June 2015 Jim Shannon was one of 19 MPs to nominate David Tredinnick for the position of Chair of the Health Select Committee[22]. Mr Tredinnick's advocacy of alternative medicine is well known and only four months earlier his view that astrology could have a role in reducing pressure on doctors had been widely reported (e.g. here).

Medical Innovation ("Saatchi") Bill

Mr Shannon contributed to a December 2014 adjournment debate on the Medical Innovation Bill, otherwise known as the "Saatchi Bill": http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141209/debtext/141209-0003.htm#14120942000221

European Medicines Agency

In October 2016, Mr Shannon contributed to a Commons debate on the European Medicines Agency, looking at the effect of the UK's exit from the EU on medical research. The entire debate, including Mr Shannon's contribution, can be read at: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-10-12/debates/C1A87D11-1F3E-4BAF-8DC0-2023B96AD963/EuropeanMedicinesAgency


  1. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110517/halltext/110517h0001.htm#11051731000001
  2. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110504/debtext/110504-0001.htm#stpa_o51
  3. http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-12/sexeducationrequiredcontent.html
  4. http://www.thetwentyfirstfloor.com/?p=2325
  5. http://www.drpetra.co.uk/blog/what-do-we-want-from-sex-and-relationships-education/
  6. http://educationforchoice.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/abstain-from-abstinence-please-dorries.html
  7. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jan/20/nadine-dorries-sexual-abstinence-bill-withdrawn
  8. http://c4m.org.uk/signatures/
  9. http://c4m.org.uk/aboutus/
  10. http://www.eauk.org/articles/coalition-for-marriage-launched.cfm
  11. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17102352
  12. http://bengoldacre.posterous.com/thinking-out-loud-who-are-the-coalition-for-m
  13. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2012/feb/20/1
  14. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=Jim_Shannon
  15. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=Jim_Shannon
  16. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110907/debtext/110907-0002.htm#110907-0002.htm_div339
  17. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2015-02-03&number=147&mpn=Jim_Shannon
  18. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/2014-10-01_Mitochondrial_donation__an_introductory_briefing_note_-_final.pdf
  19. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31063500
  20. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120717/debtext/120717-0004.htm#12071793000003
  21. https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2016-17/507
  22. http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/health-committee/chair-nominations1/

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