John Barrett

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John Barrett was the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West until standing down in 2010.


In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), John Barrett voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 22 weeks against scientific and medical consensus which is currently 24 weeks[1]. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, in keeping with scientific and medical consensus, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill.

Climate Change

In 2006, MPs were asked three questions by the Rough Guide's Mark Ellingham on how seriously they took climate change as politicians and as responsible, active citizens. John Barrett replied:

"1: It is the most important long term issue we need to tackle.
2: Britain can reduce its emissions by a combination of energy saving and increasing the development of renewable sources of electricity. Leading by example at national and local level as well as participating in international negotiations to produce agreements with a global impact. Britain should use its "special relationship" with the USA to highlight their responsibility on this issue.
3: I have changed my car to a more fuel efficient model, using one third less fuel. Decided not to fly abroad on holiday this year (had a holiday in England instead). Convinced my landlord to change the heating system in my constituency office to reduce its energy use by approximately 40%. Increased recycling in the office and at home. Plan to provide energy saving advice to constituents."[2]

Libel Law Reform

In response to an inquiry from a constituent about his stance on libel law reform, Barrett wrote:

"We have long seen from many press stories, both domestic and international, that there needs to be major reform of the libel laws in England and Wales. We often see that trials become international laughing stocks as people from all over the world take their chances in English courts because of the lax nature of the laws. Now we are even beginning to see that the laws are effecting scientific research, with academics being sued for positing theories.
"While libel laws are devolved in Scotland, and are much more stringent in what can be brought to trial, this matter effects the whole of the UK. My Liberal Democrat colleague Evan Harris has been a long time campaigner for a reform of the system and I fully support his campaign."[3]

In January 2010, John Barrett signed Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law[4]. 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.



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