In September 2015, following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour party leader, Mr McDonnell was appointed Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Mr McDonnell was placed at number 4 in political blogger Dizzy's March 2009 list of "EDM Signature Whores", for signing 676 Early Day Motions compared to fewer than 100 for a typical MP in the same period.
Following the publication of the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee's report "Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy" in February 2010, Mr McDonnell signed Early Day Motion 908: Science and Technology Committee Report on Homeopathy, which was critical of the report.
In June 2010, Mr McDonnell signed Early Day Motion 342: British Medical Association Motions on Homeopathy which expressed regret at a number of motions passed at the recent BMA annual representative meeting that "oppose further commissioning and funding of homeopathic remedies in the NHS", and "notes that 140 books have been published on homeopathy and that there is overwhelming anecdotal evidence that homeopathy is effective".
In July 2012 Mr McDonnell spoke to homeopathy campaigners at a meeting in the House of Commons about their concerns about potential restrictions to access to homeopathy (e.g. Medicines Act, NHS funding of homeopathy). It was reported (by a supporter of homeopathy) that Mr McDonnell would table an Early Day Motion and "ask MPs to have ministerial meeting to gain some assurance". Such an EDM does not appear to have been proposed.
In November 2009, John McDonnell proposed Early Day Motion 295: Statutory Registration of Herbalists. The motion stated:
- That this House notes that certain herbal medicines, including Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Kampo, traditional Tibetan medicine, Unani Tibb and western herbal medicine, may be effectively outlawed in the UK by the EU unless statutory regulation is introduced by the Government before April 2011, and that the Government's recent consultation on this issue has concluded; and therefore calls on the Government to bring forward promptly a statutory system for registering and regulating herbalists, acupuncturists and practitioners of other traditional medicine systems to meet the EU requirements and thus ensure that patients continue to have access to the full range of traditional medicines they are currently able to receive.
Mr McDonnell has signed a number of other Early Day Motions that support the use of herbal medicines. These include EDM 1103: Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (2005), EDM 1549: Herbal Clinic at The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (2008), and EDM 2080: Herbal Remedies (2008).
In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), John McDonnell voted to keep the current time limit of 24 weeks in line with the scientific and medical consensus.
In February 2015 John McDonnell voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to have genetically related children who would not inherit the disease. An October 2014 briefing report by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which had been investigating the issue for three years, stated that there was no evidence to show that mitochondrial donation was unsafe. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed. After clearing both Houses mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.
John McDonnell was one of 79 MPs who signed Early Day Motion 377 noting the achievements of Charles Darwin, and calling for Darwin's birthday to be designated a public holiday to honour "one of the fathers of modern science and one of Britain's greatest, if not the greatest, scientific minds."
Policymaking On Drugs And Alcohol
John McDonnell signed Early Day Motion 2244 calling for Government policy on alcohol and drugs misuse and harm to be based on scientific evidence. The motion came shortly after the sacking of Government drug adviser David Nutt by Home Secretary Alan Johnson in 2009.
Libel Law Reform
In December 2009, John McDonnell signed Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law. 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.
The motion was tabled following the recent formation of Libel Reform Coalition, which has the backing of Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense about Science. Sense about Science have been campaigning in defense of a member of its board of trustees, author and journalist Simon Singh, who has been sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association. They issued a statement entitled "The law has no place in scientific disputes".
In January 2010, John McDonnell signed Early Day Motion 524: Recognising Climate Change which states that "this House agrees that climate change is happening and is man-made" and calls this statement a "fact, which has the support of the overwhelming majority of the scientific community".
In October 2010, Mr McDonnell proposed Early Day Motion 853: Action on Climate Change which stated:
- "That this House recognises that there is a climate emergency and that the catastrophic destabilisation of the global climate represents one of the greatest threats that humanity faces; further recognises that there is a need to reduce the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million or below; further believes it is impossible to predict how close the world is to dangerous tipping points, and that immediate action is required to enact a programme of emergency measures with substantial emissions reductions in the short term of the order of 10 per cent. within one year, with a longer-term goal of achieving a Zero Carbon Britain by 2030; further believes that at least two hours of prime time television per week should be used to explain the gravity of the crisis to the public, that domestic flights should be phased out, a speed limit of 55 miles per hour introduced and unabated coal usage reduced; further believes that investment in greening the economy can be an effective way of reviving the economy and, in that spirit, urgent investment should be made in energy efficiency and renewable energy, public transport and the retro-fitting of efficient insulation to existing housing stock, leading to the creation of a million green jobs within one year; and further believes that the introduction of such measures would send a positive signal to other countries in the negotiations for an international emissions reductions treaty."
In July 2012 he proposed the similarly worded Early Day Motion 303: Action on Climate Change.
In September/October 2010, John McDonnell signed Early Day Motions 707: Government Funding for UK Science, and 767: Science is Vital Campaign. Both motions supported investment in science in the face of cuts anticipated in the coalition government's forthcoming spending review (though the conclusions of the review had already been announced by the time Mr McDonnell signed EDM 767).
Reproduced at http://www.homeopathyheals.me.uk/site/latest-news/2030-hmc21-lobby-in-pictures
- http://www.johnmcdonnell.org.uk/ (based on 2007 Labour Party leadership campaign website)
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