Mr Whittingdale 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.
In February 2015 John Whittingdale voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to 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.
In March 2010, following the publication of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's report "Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy", Whittingdale signed Early Day Motion 908: Science and Technology Committee Report on Homeopathy, which was critical of the report.
Advertising "Junk" Food to Children
In March 2007 it was reported that Whittingdale, in a speech to the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, had suggested that advertisers should make the argument that a ban on advertising "junk" food during children's television could "have a damaging effect on children's broadcasting that will lead to money going out of it".
Animals in Medical Research
In 2006, John Whittingdale signed Early Day Motion 1850: Animals in Medical Research which noted that "animal research is only permitted where there is no better alternative and that pain and suffering are minimised and balanced against the potential benefit to humans and animals", supported "the building of the new state of the art biomedical research laboratory at Oxford University", condemned "unlawful animal rights extremism, including any violence, harassment or intimidation of those associated with lawful animal research", and supported "the well-regulated use of animals in medical research".
Libel Law Reform
John Whittingdale was chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee during the preparation of its report "Press Standards, Privacy and Libel". On its publication in February 2010, Whittingdale made several statements supporting the report, including:
- There is increasing evidence that in recent years investigative journalism is being deterred by the threat and cost of having to defend libel actions. This is a matter of serious concern to all those who believe that a free press is an essential component of a free society. This report's recommendations are therefore designed to reduce the cost of libel actions and to correct the balance which has tipped too far in favour of the plaintiff. At the same time, we want to see the self-regulatory system under which the press operates strengthened in order to increase its credibility and ensure that standards are maintained.
In March 2010, John Whittingdale 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.
In February 2013 Mr Whittingdale was reported to have condemned a Lord's amendment to the Defamation Bill. The amendment in question was introduced following the Leveson Inquiry into press invasion of privacy, but it was suggested that it would result in the media being forced to have articles pre-vetted before publication or face potentially punitive damages thus damaging press freedom.
John Whittingdale is a member of the Cornerstone Group, a group within the Conservative Party that describes itself as believing in "the spiritual values which have informed British institutions, our culture and our nation's sense of identity for centuries, underpinned by the belief in a strong nation state.". Their website includes articles on Conservative and Christian political issues.
In January 2013, following a Parliamentary question from David Lammy on the effects of fixed-odds betting terminals, answered by Hugh Robertson, Mr Whittingdale added his own remarks about the contents of the recent Select Committee report on the issue, and emphasised "the desperate need for more empirical evidence and research in this area" which "must be addressed as a priority before we start taking decisions".
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