John Lamont is the Scottish Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire. He stood as the Conservative candidate for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk in the 2005, 2010 and 2015 UK general elections.
Skeptical Voter Questionnaire
In March 2011, in the run-up to the Scottish Parliament general election, Lamont was sent a copy of the Skeptical Voter Survey Questions. His responses:
- 1. Should Homeopathy and other forms of complimentary and alternative medicine receive funding from the Scottish NHS?
- Under the current governance structure of the NHS, any treatment of this type made available on the NHS must be approved by the local health board first. I would call on health boards to base their decisions on the evidence that exists as to the effectiveness or otherwise of the medicine or treatment, just as they do when they decide whether to provide a conventional medicines or treatments.
- 2. Scotland has declared itself GMO free – do you welcome this or do you worry it could have an impact on our world class life sciences research?
- The Scottish Conservatives want to see a legally-binding protocol covering the separation of GM and non-GM material, including clear industry liability.
- 3. What would you propose as a “Scottish Solution” for funding our universities? Should we take similar steps regarding fees as England and Wales? Should we introduce a graduate tax? How can we ensure that Scotlands Universities continue to be world class?
- I believe that a progressive graduate contribution, repayable once a salary reaches a certain threshold at an affordable rate, is the only way of bridging the huge funding gap we are faced with and keeping Scotland’s universities world class.
- 4. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?
- A firm grounding in science is a core element of children’s education, including the teaching of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Creationism is not an equivalent scientific theory to evolution and its place on the curriculum should be in Religious and Moral Education lessons.
- 5. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?
- Yes, although I believe we should work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research.
- 6. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive? What steps should policy makers take to evaluate claims and seek evidence?
- Evidence-based policy-making is the norm in the Twenty First Century, and governments regularly take into account all available research evidence. However it falls to politicians to take decisions on matters which have conflicting scientific evidence, or on which there should be other considerations, such as social or moral factors, so we should not pretend that political judgements do not have to be made.
- 7. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?
- Scientific and medical opinion is vital in the debate on abortion time limits, and was the reason for the reduction in 1990 from 28 to 24 weeks. But there is not always a clear consensus, especially at the margins of viability, and I do not think that MPs should be forced to vote against any religious views that they may have on the subject, so there must continue to be free votes on the issue.
- 8. Do you support gay adoption? Do you believe certain adoption agencies should be able to reject individuals based on sexuality?
- I think potential adoptive parents should be assessed on their personal suitability to adopt, without prejudice on the grounds of their sexuality. The law states that discrimination on the grounds of sexuality is illegal, and I support that.
- 9. Would you retain European Human rights legislation or seek to replace it if elected?
- The European Convention on Human Rights was drafted by British lawyers and has been a part of British law for over 60 years and the principles it lays down are cornerstones of our liberty. I do have concerns about the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998, and support the UK Government’s commission to explore a new UK Bill of Rights. We also need to look at its pratical implications from a Scottish perspective.
- 10. What are your views on nuclear power and green energy?
- Nuclear power, as a low carbon energy source, has the potential to play a very important role in the move away from fossil fuels. Nuclear has the advantage of helping provide a reliable baseload in all weathers (which is one reason why I think that a balanced “mix” of energy sources is desirable) and I believe the risks that it clearly has can be mitigated if the industry is regulated properly. However, the days are gone when nuclear power can be supported by public subsidy at the expense of other low carbon technology. I regret that the uncertainty caused by the SNP’s dogmatic opposition to nuclear power means that there is little chance of a new nuclear power station being built in Scotland in the near future. The reality is that we probably will have nuclear power in Scotland, but it will be cabled-in from England, and Scotland will miss out on the potential economic benefits of the nuclear industry.
- I believe that Scotland can and should be at the forefront in renewables such as wind, solar, tidal and hydroelectric power, and I support recent UK Government initiatives to develop those and know that further initiatives will be announced in the Conservative manifesto for Holyrood, but I do not believe that an expansion in renewables can meet our future energy needs by itself.
- 11. What public services would you retain/scrap in Scotland if elected?
- The Scottish Conservatives do not propose any wholesale scrapping of public services. Whenever possible, we will make savings without making frontline cuts (and, more than any other party, we have the plans to help us do that, such as our proposals for mutualising Scottish Water). We have been honest in saying that some services, such as free prescriptions for those who can afford to pay, do need to come to an end as they are not an efficient use of public money.
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