Keith Vaz

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Keith Vaz is the Labour MP for Leicester East. He was first elected in 1987.

Healthcare

Abortion

In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Keith Vaz voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 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.

In September 2011 Keith Vaz voted for Nadine Dorries’s amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, which was ultimately defeated by 368 to 118 votes[2]. 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.

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 Keith Vaz voted against allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease[3]. 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[4]. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed[5]. The majority of MPs voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation.

Alternative Medicine

Keith Vaz is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Integrated Healthcare.[6]

Homeopathy

Keith Vaz was one of 206 MPs to sign the March 2007 Early Day Motion 1240 calling for the positive recognition of NHS homeopathic hospitals[7].

In June 2010, Keith Vaz signed Early Day Motions 284: BMA Annual Representative Meeting Motions on Homeopathy[8], 285: Effect of Homeopathic Remedies on Breast Cancer Cells[9], 286: Homeopathic Medicines in the Treatment of Moderate to Severe Depression[10], 287: Homeopathy and Chronic Primary Insomnia[11], and 342: British Medical Association Motions on Homeopathy[12].

Climate Change

In February 2010, Keith Vaz 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"[13].

Science Funding

In October 2010, Keith Vaz signed Early Day Motion 767: Science is Vital Campaign. The motion stated that the house "believes that continued investment in research is vital in order to meet the technological and social challenges of the 21st century, and to continue to attract high-tech industries to invest here; further believes that large cuts to science funding are a false economy, due to evidence that research investment fuels economic growth".[14]

Free Speech

Salman Rushdie Affair

In 1989 Keith Vaz, in spite of not being Muslim himself, was active in protests against Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses"[15]. The next year, writing in the Guardian, he urged Rushdie not to publish the book in paperback because "there is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech"[16].

Libel Law Reform

In March 2010, Keith Vaz signed Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law[17]. 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.

Blasphemy Laws

In November 2015 Mr Vaz gave apparently conflicting responses to an interviewer when asked about his views on blasphemy laws. The interview can be heard here: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/blog/2015/11/18/Audio-What-Keith-Vaz-actually-said-about-UK-blasphemy-law.html

Video Game Violence

On several occasions Vaz has spoken out against violence and other adult content in video games. In March 2006, in a speech in the House of Commons[18], he brought up the murder of Stefan Pakeerah (initially thought to be related to the murderer's "obsession" with the game Manhunt, but later it was found that it was the victim who had owned a copy of the game), the "Hot Coffee" minigame in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and the game Bully which had not been released at the time that Vaz was speaking. In April 2008 Vaz spoke about a stabbing at the launch of Grand Theft Auto IV[19], but it was later reported that the stabbing was unrelated to the game launch[20]. In January 2010 in a debate in the House of Commons Vaz criticised the "No Russian" level in Modern Warfare 2[21] and incorrectly stated that the game had been banned by the Russian Government (in fact the Russian version of the game does not include this level).

On 4th November 2008, Vaz proposed Early Day Motion 2416: Violent Video Games and Aggressive Behaviour in Children[22] which condemned the online Flash game "Kaboom: The Suicide Bombing Game". It also welcomed an Iowa State University study "which recognises the link between violent video games and aggressive behaviour". Based on the timing of the EDM the study in question may be that published in Pediatrics and reported by CNN Health on 3rd November 2008[23]. The full reference is: Anderson, C. A., Sakamoto, A., Gentile, D. A., Ihori, N., & Shibuya, A., Yukawa, S., Naito, M., & Kobayashi, K. (2008). Longitudinal Effects of Violent Video Games Aggression in Japan and the United States. Pediatrics, 122, e1067-e1072[24]. Researchers at Iowa State University have published a number of papers on the effects of violence in games and the media[25].

Same-Sex Marriage

Keith Vaz voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its second reading in February 2013[26] and did not vote at its third reading in May 2013[27].

References

  1. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmsctech/1045/104502.htm
  2. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110907/debtext/110907-0002.htm#110907-0002.htm_div339
  3. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2015-02-03&number=147&mpn=Keith_Vaz
  4. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/2014-10-01_Mitochondrial_donation__an_introductory_briefing_note_-_final.pdf
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31063500
  6. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/integrated-healthcare.htm
  7. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2006-07/1240
  8. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/284
  9. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/285
  10. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/286
  11. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/287
  12. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/342
  13. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/524
  14. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/767
  15. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/article565045.ece
  16. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1137824.stm
  17. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/423
  18. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2006-03-01b.258.3
  19. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article3842652.ece
  20. http://www.gamesradar.com/xbox360/grand-theft-auto-iv/news/gta-stabbing-nothing-to-do-with-gta/a-20080430102550859040/g-2006051014323586065
  21. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2010-01-06a.181.0#g195.2
  22. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2007-08/2416
  23. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/family/11/03/healthmag.violent.video.kids/
  24. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/122/5/e1067
  25. http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/~caa/
  26. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=Keith_Vaz
  27. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=Keith_Vaz

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