In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Peter Bone voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks against scientific and medical consensus which is currently 24 weeks. 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 February 2015 Mr Bone voted (as a teller) against allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease. 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. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed. The majority of MPs voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation.
In February 2010, following the publication of the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee's report "Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy", Mr Bone signed Early Day Motion 908: Science and Technology Committee Report on Homeopathy, which was critical of the report.
Nomination of David Tredinnick for Health Committee Chair
In June 2015 Peter Bone was one of 19 MPs to nominate David Tredinnick for the position of Chair of the Health Select Committee. Mr Tredinnick's advocacy of alternative medicine is well known and only four months earlier his view that astrology could have a role in reducing pressure on doctors had been widely reported (e.g. here).
Peter Bone is a member of the Cornerstone Group, a group within the Conservative Party that describes itself as believing in "the spiritual values which have informed British institutions, our culture and our nation's sense of identity for centuries, underpinned by the belief in a strong nation state.". Their website includes articles on Conservative and Christian political issues.
On 6th May 2008, Peter Bone voted against a Lords amendment to abolish the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel. The amendment was nonetheless passed by a vote of 378 to 57.
Charities Act Amendment
In December 2012 Mr Bone presented a 10-minute (private member's) bill to amend the Charities Act to reinstate the presumption of public benefit for religious organisations. The motivation for the bill seemed to be the rejection of the application for charitable status from Preston Down Trust, a part of the Plymouth Brethren, when they failed to convince the Charities Commission that they provided a public benefit. There are a number of Christian denominations under the banner of the Exclusive/Open/Plymouth Brethren with a shared history but distinct doctrines. Some groups are open, however the Plymouth (or Exclusive) Brethren have been accused of forcing members to split ties with non-members including family. When asked for examples of acts in the public benefit in a session with the Public Administration Selection Committee their examples included the distribution of "gospel tracts and Christian literature" and street preaching. In December 2012 the Charity Commission submitted written evidence to the PASC stating why they refused Preston Down Trust charitable status:
- "Preston Down Trust promotes particular beliefs and practices, in particular the doctrine of separation which is central to their beliefs and way of life and this has the consequence of limiting their engagement with non-Brethren and the wider public. The evidence we were given showed that the doctrine of separation as preached by the Trust requires followers to limit their engagement with the wider public, and there was insufficient evidence of meaningful access to participate in public worship. The Commission concluded that the evidence of beneficial impact on the wider public was not sufficient to demonstrate public benefit. This was a finely balanced decision."
In June 2013 Mr Bone sponsored a similar private members' bill: Charitable Status for Religious Institutions Bill 2013-14. This was one of 40 bills introduced by a group of Conservative backbenchers who were viewed as being from the right of the party.
In March 2012, Mr Bone signed the Coalition for Marriage petition which stated:
- "I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it."
The Coalition for Marriage describes itself as "an umbrella group of individuals and organisations ... backed by politicians, lawyers, academics and religious leaders". They are supported by the Evangelical Alliance and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, and have connections with other Christian groups.
The group claims it "draws upon a substantial body of evidence". However science and evidence-based politics blogger Martin Robbins described their argument as "confused, irrational and ultimately self-defeating".
At around the same time, some remarks on same-sex marriage by Mr Bone were quoted in the press:
- "It wasn't in our manifesto. It wasn't in Labour's manifesto. It wasn't in the Liberal manifesto.
- "Nobody in my constituency before this row has ever come up to me and said this is an important issue that needs to be dealt with.
- "It came completely out of the blue and it should certainly not be put before the next general election."
- "It's rather like saying a pear is an apple - it just can't be. It's just really the definition,"
- "I'm in favour of civil partnerships and equality. But, you can not in my view redefine marriage on a whim."
He had also asked a question in the Commons on same-sex marriage and suggested that a simple response to the proposal would be "Marriage is between a man and a woman so this is completely nuts".
In June 2013 Mr Bone sponsored a private members' bill: Same Sex Marriage (Referendum) Bill 2013-14 to make provision for a referendum on whether same sex marriage should be allowed. This was one of 40 bills introduced by a group of Conservative backbenchers who were viewed as being from the right of the party.
- http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmpubadm/c574-iii/c57401.htm Q245
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