Mark Durkan

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Mark Durkan is the Social Democratic and Labour Party MP for Foyle. He was party leader from 2001 until 2010.

Healthcare

Abortion

In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Mark Durkan 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. Also the Abortion Act 1967 does not currently apply to Northern Ireland.

In September 2011 Mark Durkan 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 Mark Durkan 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.

MMR Vaccine

Mark Durkan signed the February 2009 Early Day Motion 754: MMR Vaccine and the Media supporting the use of the MMR vaccine. The motion expressed disappointment with the reporting of the vaccine by Jeni Barnett on her LBC radio show in January 2009, and expressed the hope that future reporting of the issue of MMR would be less sensationalist and more evidence-based.[6]

Gay Rights

August 2012, supported Pride Parade: http://www.londonderrysentinel.co.uk/what-s-on/arts-culture/durkan-urges-people-to-support-gay-pride-1-4191039

Mr Durkan voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at both its second reading in February 2013[7] and its third reading in May 2013[8].

Climate Change

In 2006, MPs were asked three questions by the Rough Guide's Mark Ellingham on how seriously they took climate change as politicians and as responsible, active citizens. Mark Durkan replied:

"Politicians, among others, often talk about wanting to change the world. Climate change is one way we cannot afford the world to change. Arresting this threat is a planetary imperative."[9]

In February 2010, Mark Durkan 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"[10].

Science Funding

In September 2010, Mark Durkan signed Early Day Motion 707: Government Funding for UK Science. The motion stated that the house "supports the view of the President of the Royal Society that short-term austerity risks undermining the UK's future science base", noted that other countries were investing in science to promote economic growth, and "believes that investment in basic scientific research throughout the UK is vital if the commercial benefits of developing new technology are to be broadly spread".[11]

Libel Law Reform

In December 2009, Mark Durkan signed the amended Early Day Motion 423A1 calling for a reform of the English libel law[12]. 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 original EDM 423 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". The amended version added a statement of the belief that "libel laws discriminate against average and low paid people when victims of defamatory comment in the pages of national publications".

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=Mark_Durkan
  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.parliament.uk/edm/2008-09/754
  7. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=Mark_Durkan
  8. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=Mark_Durkan
  9. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/climate-change-what-mps-think--a-to-c-424376.html
  10. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/524
  11. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/707
  12. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/423#423A1

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