- 1 Religion
- 2 Same-Sex Marriage
- 3 Abortion and Sex Education
- 4 Mitochondrial Donation
- 5 Homeopathy
- 6 Nomination of David Tredinnick for Health Committee Chair
- 7 Climate Change
- 8 University Tuition Fees
- 9 Libel Law Reform
- 10 Skeptical Voter Questions 2010
- 11 References
- 12 External Links
Philip Davies 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.
Freedom of Religion
Faith based Adoption Agencies
In 2007, Philip Davies signed Early Day Motion 742 calling on the government to exclude "faith based" adoption agencies from the Equality Act to avoid such agencies being forced to consider gay couples.
In January 2015 Mr Davies proposed a single amendment to the Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill: the change of the word "may" to "shall" so that the first clause of the Bill would read (our emphasis)
- The business at a meeting of a local authority in England shall include
- time for—
- (a) prayers or other religious observance, or
- (b) observance connected with a religious or philosophical belief.
It was reported by the National Secular Society that Mr Davies argued that people serving the public should start their meetings with prayers as reminder of their duty to the people they are elected to serve.
Abortion and Sex Education
Philip Davies spoke in a House of Commons Debate of 19th July 2005 on Abortion Time Limits. In his opening speech he stated that he "would not support an outright ban on abortion. It is not right to tell women in particular situations that they cannot have an abortion. How, for example, can we tell someone who has been raped that they must not have an abortion?". He went on to say that "Although I support abortions for people in particular situations, it is outrageous and morally wrong to accept the principle that it should be permissible to abort a viable baby. We will therefore always come back to the science." He then referred to Early Day Motion 516 which he had proposed earlier that month and which stated:
- That this House calls on the Government to reduce the current limit of 24 weeks for abortions to 20 weeks, acknowledging advances in medicine which have increased the survival rate for babies born at 24 weeks to 39 per cent.
In the Commons he accepted "that my figure of 20 weeks was perhaps arbitrary; it was designed to move the debate on, which is why I welcome this debate". Evan Harris preferred a 19% figure for survival, rather than 39%, noting that the 19% figure was for surviving to a six-year follow-up.
Davies then turned to sex education, stating that "I certainly do not accept that more sex education in schools is the way to avoid unwanted pregnancies and abortions... . So far as I can tell, the more sex education we have in schools, the more unwanted pregnancies and abortions there are." When Sandra Gidley referred him to the "Health Committee report on sexual health, which demonstrates quite adequately that current levels of education in schools are woefully inadequate" he replied that "simply because a Select Committee gives a particular recommendation does not necessarily mean that I must agree with it. I am sure that she does not necessarily agree with every recommendation made by every Committee. I try to use my own practical experience and consider these things from my own perspective as well." However, earlier, talking on abortion and premature survival rates he had stated "Select Committees should debate the issue, and the Government should get people to look into it, so that we can have a debate that is based on science and fact rather than raw emotion."
As of 27th April 2010, the following remark of Davies from the debate was still posted on his website:
- It strikes me that the idea that more sex education will sort out all our problems is an easy and cheap solution. We have given sex education a particularly good go for several years and it does not appear to have worked, so a different strategy might need to be adopted. This never-ending sex education thing seems to encourage a fascination in the whole subject rather than preventing people from indulging in these pastimes and successfully preventing unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortions.
In May 2011 Mr Davies voted in favour of Nadine Dorries' Sex Education (Required Content) "10 minute" Bill. The Bill stated that "such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity". It was criticised for only applying to sex education for girls, not boys, with critics also pointing to evidence that abstinence-only sex education (which does not necessarily lead to abstinence itself) does not protect young people from unwanted pregnancies or STIs (although this was not a bill advocating abstinence-only sex education, it would have meant that the only required elements of sex education would be basic information on reproduction, plus this new content on abstinence, with further content being up to the individual school). The Bill passed its first reading by 67 votes to 61, but had little chance of becoming law and was withdrawn in January 2012 shortly before its second reading.
Mr Davies 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.
In February 2015 Philip Davies voted 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 March 2010, following the publication of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's report "Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy", Philip Davies 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 2014 Mr Davies was one of 20 MPs to nominate David Tredinnick (an outspoken advocate of alternative medicine) for the position of Chair of the Health Select Committee. It is not known if Mr Davies subsequently voted for Mr Tredinnick, who only received nine votes in the anonymous ballot.
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. Philip Davies replied:
- "Climate change is clearly a very important issue, and you would know my views about this based on the way I have voted in Parliament and on the Early Day Motions I have signed which I suggest you look at. It is also vitally important we persuade countries such as the US and China to agree to take measures too."
On 5th May 2008, in a Westminster Hall debate on climate change, Davies brought up examples of short-term cooling, seeming to challenge the scientific consensus on long-term global warming:
- "...it would be a mistake to act too swiftly when, according to the Met Office Hadley Centre, last year there was a 12-month long drop in world temperature sufficient to wipe out a whole century of warming? In addition, China, which is supposed to be spewing out more carbon emissions than ever before, has had its coldest winter in 100 years."
- "Will my hon. Friend explain why, over the past year, we have seen the single fastest temperature change ever recorded—a reduction in world temperatures of between 0.65 and 0.75 per cent.—and why China has had its coldest winter in 100 years, despite increased carbon emissions?"
He also expresses an opinion on Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth:
- "My hon. Friend will know that Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, was ruled by a judge to contain at least nine inaccuracies, yet the Government have sent it out to every school in the country. Does my hon. Friend agree that that is more propaganda than science?"
Prior to the 2010 general election, a constituent sent Mr Davies a set of questions including "Do you believe that we should aim to reduce carbon emissions on the basis of the current evidence regarding Climate Change?". The response:
- "Yes, although I do not support taking unilateral action to reduce carbon emissions given that the UK is only responsible for just 2% of global carbon emissions. Such unilateral action is futile and gesture politics of the worst kind."
University Tuition Fees
In December 2010 Philip Davies voted against increasing the upper limit on university tuition fees from £3290 per year to £9000 per year. The proposed increase was a response to the Browne Report, published in October of that year, which had proposed a complete removal of any upper limit on fees, together with other measures (largely adopted by the coalition government) to ease the burden of repayment.
Libel Law Reform
In December 2009, Philip Davies seconded Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law. 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 motion 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".
Skeptical Voter Questions 2010
- https://twitter.com/julianhuppert/status/481110771217469440 & https://twitter.com/julianhuppert/status/481111043796914176 & https://twitter.com/julianhuppert/status/481352356777697281
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