Dr Fox studied medicine at the University of Glasgow. He subsequently worked as a GP, and is a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Skeptical Voter Questions 2010
Dr. Liam Fox has responded to the 10-point Skeptical Voter questionnaire, which was sent to him by a constituent, along with two additional questions:
1. Do you support the use of public funds to provide unproven alternative "treatments" such as homeopathy?
2. Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution?
3. Do you believe that religious belief should be legally protected from ridicule?
4. Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly without fear of being sacked?
5. Should Sharia law be allowed as an alternative system within UK law?
6. Do you agree that testing on animals (within strict criteria) is a necessary part of the development of medicines?
7. Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive?
8. Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus?
9. Should religious leaders be entitled to vote in the House of Lords?
10. Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger 'public interest' defence?
11. Do you think that people who own B&Bs should be able to turn away guests if they do not agree with aspects of their lifestyle or appearance?
12. How can the UK deliver accessible, affordable, quality care to elderly people both in their own homes and in a care setting?
Dr Fox's responses were:
I have always believed that public funds should be used in health care in a way which is compatible with scientific evidence. We simply cannot afford to spend money on any treatments which do not have proven medical outcomes.
I have no objection to ideas of creationism being discussed in schools as long as they are placed in the correct context as a minority view, rather than on the basis of equivalence with the for more widely accepted theory of evolution.
I do agree that animal testing is currently essential if we are to minimise the risks to humans of new medicines. As someone who prescribed any medicine on the basis of scientific evidence, I think that all policy dictated by government should be done on the basis of evidence rather than supposition or prejudice.
I believe that there should be an elected Upper House as I have always taken the view that those who make the law shold be accountable to those who live under the law.
I don't believe that there should be any other legal system other than the laws determined by our own elected parliament. If others wish to operate to a religious code that falls wholly within our law, then that is a matter for them but there can only be one legal basis in the UK.
The law is clear on the issue of discrimination in the provision of goods and services, and the Conservative Party does not wish to see it changed. Certainly, the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 clearly state that no one should be refused goods or services on the grounds of their sexuality. The law is clear and must be complied with.
David Cameron has made clear that there is absolutely no room in the Conservative Party for any form of discrimination or homophobia. We will, for example, continue to support civil partnerships strongly. Pledging yourself to another means doing something brave and important; it means something whether you're a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and another man.
Let me assure you that Conservatives are committed to equality and fighting discrimination. No group should face discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Our solution for long term care for the elderly is to create a new national Home Protection Scheme. It will allow people to protect their homes and savings for a flat fee of £8,000. This one-off fee will provide a firm guarantee that older citizens entering permanent residential care will have their fees paid for life. This is excellent value as typically an older person entering residential care will stay for at least two years, meaning fees of at least £52,000.
This scheme offers simplicity because people will automatically be invited to opt in when they start to receive their state pension; there is no need for the complex means test or form filling. Just as in an insurance scheme, people will be sharing the risks together. So as the number of people entering the scheme each year will be much larger than those who end up needing care the fee can be kept low for everyone. For the existing over 65s we will open the scheme for a fixed window of time in order to allow everybody to benefit from the Home Protection Scheme.
If you would like to know the Party's views on any other subjects, please log on to the website - www.conservatives.com and you will find most subjects covered.
On an episode of BBC's Question Time broadcast on 25th February 2010, they raised the issue of the teaching of religious views on homosexuality in sex education classes, and whether it was in some way equivalent to teaching creationism in science classes. Fox said:
- "...we should treat it in the same way, and say that some people believe in creationism, but almost all of science says that it's way out there as a minority view. I think that we've got to be tolerant of other views, but put them in context."
In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Liam Fox voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill.
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report of October 2007 had found no good evidence of change since the limit was set in 1990, and hence no new reason for a reduction. However, it acknowledged that this was only one of many factors to be taken into account when legislating, and did not make any recommendations as to how MPs should vote.
Dr Fox 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.
Libel Law Reform
In response to an inquiry from a constituent about his stance on libel law reform and the case against science writer Simon Singh, Fox wrote:
- "Thank you for contacting me about the libel case against Simon Singh.
- "I share your concern about the importance of free speech. It is the hallmark of a free society. More generally, I also believe that with regards to the law of libel it is important that we have a balanced approach.
- "There can be no doubt that the Simon Singh libel case is a matter of great importance to many in the science community. However, you will understand that, as a Member of Parliament, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on individual cases. Parliament’s role is to set the overall legal framework and to ensure that it functions correctly and fairly."
In a debate in the House of Commons on planned high-power electric power lines through his constituency, Liam Fox raised the issue of health concerns:
- Another issue is the unknown quantity of safety. The height of the proposed pylons is 46 metres. We all recognise that the issues concerning the impact of electric and magnetic fields are complicated and potentially open to a range of interpretations. Given the confused nature of the advice currently available, we believe that it would be sensible for National Grid to approach the matter with caution-to adopt the precautionary principle. This would avoid the positioning of pylons and power lines in close proximity to homes, public rights of way, community routes, schools and colleges where land-based lines are in use.
In January 2013 sent a letter to at least one constituent outlining his views on same-sex marriage. He wrote:
- "As a doctor I believe that same-sex relationships are a variant of the spectrum of human sexual behaviour and should be treated with tolerance and respect. Prejudice dressed in any other clothes is still the same.
- "Proponents of same-sex marriage argue that any change is simply a matter of equal rights. I disagree with them. I believe that this argument fails to understand the full complexities of the social issues involved. If this were simply an argument about righting a wrong, with no other consequences, it would not be creating so much division.
- "The legal introduction of civil partnerships, recognising the legal basis of same-sex relationships, dealt with the perceived and real discrimination against a section of our population. It was a remedy that was widely accepted, not least as it affected only those who had long faced this discrimination in their legal and financial affairs.
- "The change in the status of marriage in the proposed legislation does not fit this pattern, It proposes to change the definition of marriage for all, for the perceived benefit of a much smaller number. Unlike civil partnerships it is not even clear that there is much demand for the change. I have not heard any of the gay friends that I have clamour for same-sex marriage in the way that they demanded the right for civil partnerships. The problem facing these proposals is that marriage is held by many to be the unique (and in a religious context sacred) bond between a man and a woman. Many see the change in the legal status as denying them in law the special recognition of this relationship - a relationship whose unique qualities they have valued, often over many years. The result is that, far from embedding the tolerance and equality that the civil partnership legislation brought, it is highlighting division and difference. This is to be greatly regretted."
He then turned to proposed religious exemptions, which had been modified since the original proposal in an attempt to address worries that religious institutions would be forced to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies against their beliefs:
- "What makes the position worse is the way that the legislation increasingly looks as though it was made on the hoof to deal with the political problem du jour. Banning the Church of England from what would be an otherwise legal activity is anomalous and absurd. If the "exemption" is, as stated, because the Church had made clear their objection to same-sex marriage then why not exempt the Catholic Church which has been even clearer in its opposition."
- "Worse still, any assurances that we are given that distinguishing between churches will not be used at some point by European courts to drive a coach and horses through the legislation carries little credibility with those of us who have watched similar assurances trounced in the past. ... we should not be intruding on the freedom of worship that is the proper preserve of the Churches not the Courts."
He concluded his letter stating that he would vote against the proposed changes.
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