Mark Lancaster

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Mark Lancaster is the Conservative MP for Milton Keynes North, having been MP for North East Milton Keynes prior to the 2010 boundary changes.

Homeopathy

Lancaster was one of 206 MPs to sign the March 2007 Early Day Motion 1240 calling for the positive recognition of NHS homeopathic hospitals[1].

Animals in Medical Research

In 2006, Mark Lancaster 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".[2]

Libel Law Reform

In response to an inquiry from a constituent about his stance on libel law reform and Early Day Motion 423, Lancaster wrote:

"I understand your concerns on this issue. It is important that those who contribute so much to research and culture in this country do not feel restricted from publishing intellectually challenging and informative articles. Fear of libel action should not curb debate by scientists, academics and journalists. Freedom of expression is the hallmark of a free society, and must be strongly protected.
"If libel cases do succeed, the costs are often so crippling to defendants that even large newspapers are in difficulty in resisting some claims. It is evident that Britain has become an attractive place for individuals to bring about speculative libel action since lawyers will often bear the brunt of the costs in exchange for the potential awards available to winning litigants.
"I do believe, however, that we must be careful when changing libel law itself. People have the right not to be defamed unless necessary; any changes to this law should not risk this principle. I believe that the burden of proof should remain on individuals who make defamatory claims about other people to justify their assertions about others. For this reason, I do not feel that I can sign EDM 423.
"You may be aware that the Secretary of State for Justice, the Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP, has recently announced that the Government is currently drawing up plans to alter libel law. Let me assure you that my colleagues on the Shadow Justice Team will continue to press the Government on this issue, to ensure that any changes to the law adequately protect individuals without placing too great a burden on, for example, scientists, academics and journalists."[3]

Similar responses were sent by Robert Wilson, Edward Timpson and Mark Harper. Elements of the same text appeared in responses from Oliver Letwin and Iain Duncan Smith.

However, in March 2010, Lancaster apparently changed his mind and signed Early Day Motion 423[4].

Royal Society of Chemistry Parliamentary Links Day

In June 2010, Mark Lancaster proposed Early Day Motion 238: Royal Society of Chemistry's Parliamentary Links Day[5]. The motion stated:

"That this House congratulates the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on holding its Parliamentary Links Day on 22 June 2010 on the theme of Science and the New Parliament; welcomes the Society's commitment to serve the public interest by improving hon. Members' access to scientific information and a better understanding of science; notes the keynote address by right hon. David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science; further notes that other speakers include Professor Dave Garner, President of the RSC, Lord Rees of Ludlow, President of the Royal Society, Martin Earwicker, Council Member of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Helen Fielding, RSC Member of Council, Dr Mark Downs, Chief Executive, the Society of Biology, Jocelyn Bell, President of the Institute of Physics, Bryan Lovell, President of the Geological Society, Imran Khan of CaSE, David Cope, Director of POST, and Professor John Beddington, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser; further welcomes the participation of the right hon. Member for Doncaster North on behalf of the Official Opposition and the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston as Chair-elect of the Science and Technology Select Committee; further notes that Parliamentary Links Day is an established and respected event on the annual Parliamentary calendar; further notes that the Royal Society of Chemistry's pioneering Parliamentary Link Scheme, pairing scientists with hon. Members, is open to right hon. and hon. Members on all sides of the House; and further welcomes the outstanding contribution that Parliamentary Links Day makes to strengthening the dialogue between Parliament and the science and engineering community."

Khat

In July 2013 it was announced that the Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May would ban the "legal high" khat, in spite of the fact that its own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs had stated in a January 2013 report that it "considers that the evidence of harms associated with the use of khat is insufficient to justify control and it would be inappropriate and disproportionate to classify khat under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971". On the day of the announcement Mr Lancaster tweeted:

"Good news that our long campaign to ban Khat has succeeded. Great that community voices have been heard and acted on by this Govt"[6]

When asked about this the divergence from the ACMD recommendation, Mr Lancaster tweeted:

"ACMD recom considered health aspect only, statement highlights wider concerns over int trafficking and family breakdown"[7]

However the ACMD report[8] Section 5 was titled "Overview of the Societal Harms associated with khat use", section 6 "International Issues" (an overview of current international legislation), section 9 "Concerns: communities and groups".

Same-Sex Marriage

February 2013: http://marklancastermp.org/news/comment-same-sex-marriage-bill/201

May 2013: http://www.mkweb.co.uk/News/Politics/Conservative-MPs-agree-to-disagree-over-gay-marriage-bill-20130520172920.htm

Mr Lancaster voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its second reading in February 2013[9], and as a teller for the noes at its third reading in May 2013[10].

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 Mark Lancaster 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[11]. 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[12]. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed[13]. After clearing both Houses mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.

References

  1. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2006-07/1240
  2. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2005-06/1850
  3. http://skepchick.org/blog/2010/01/libel-reform-which-mps-are-doing-their-jobs/
  4. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/423
  5. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/238
  6. https://twitter.com/MarkLancasterMP/status/352381490136485888
  7. https://twitter.com/MarkLancasterMP/status/352406622607388673
  8. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/144120/report-2013.pdf
  9. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=Mark_Lancaster
  10. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=Mark_Lancaster
  11. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2015-02-03&number=147&mpn=Mark_Lancaster
  12. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/2014-10-01_Mitochondrial_donation__an_introductory_briefing_note_-_final.pdf
  13. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31063500

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