Oliver Letwin

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Oliver Letwin is the Conservative MP for West Dorset. He entered Parliament in 1997.


In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Oliver Letwin voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 20 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.

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 Oliver Letwin 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[2]. 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[3]. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed[4]. After clearing both Houses mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.

RCTs in the NHS

In 2014 Mr Letwin was active in pushing forward a scheme to make it easier to run point-of-care randomised trials in the NHS[5].

Climate Change

In December 2006, Letwin signed Early Day Motion 58: Climate Change[6] which stated that "climate change is a serious environmental, economic and social challenge which requires urgent action" and "that the United Kingdom's ability to take a global lead on the issue is compromised by the fact that domestic emissions of carbon dioxide".

In February 2007, Letwin proposed EDM 867: Measurement of Carbon Emissions[7] which stated:

That this House recognises the importance of conserving the world's natural resources and of countering climate change; notes the urgent need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity; congratulates businesses that have begun to measure the carbon emissions resulting from their operations, supply chains, products and services; also notes the difficulties in defining the parameters for such measurement and in agreeing methodologies; believes that such measurements would enable both informed comparison and customer choice; emphasises the need for national and international consensus on such measurement and methodologies; and calls upon the Royal Society to take forward the process for establishing a mechanism for achieving such a consensus.

Libel Law Reform

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

"I have indeed now looked into this issue, but as a member of the shadow cabinet, I am prevented from signing EDM 423.
"Also, I believe that we must be careful when changing libel law. I accept that people in public life have to accept a great deal of attack. But private individuals have the right not to be casually defamed; 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 private individuals to justify their assertions.
"I do, however, 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."[8]

Elements of the same text appeared in responses from Mark Lancaster, Robert Wilson, Edward Timpson, Iain Duncan Smith and Mark Harper.

Same-Sex Marriage

Oliver Letwin voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at both its second reading in February 2013[9] and its third reading in May 2013[10].


  1. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmsctech/1045/104502.htm
  2. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2015-02-03&number=147&mpn=Oliver_Letwin
  3. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/2014-10-01_Mitochondrial_donation__an_introductory_briefing_note_-_final.pdf
  4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31063500
  5. https://twitter.com/bengoldacre/status/487560332408541184 & https://twitter.com/bengoldacre/status/487560465443454977
  6. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2006-07/58
  7. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2006-07/867
  8. http://skepchick.org/blog/2010/01/libel-reform-which-mps-are-doing-their-jobs/
  9. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=Oliver_Letwin
  10. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=Oliver_Letwin

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