In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Richard Bacon 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.
Mr Bacon 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.
Pharmaceutical Trial Data/Tamiflu
Richard Bacon was a member of the Public Accounts Committee for their report "Access to clinical trial information and the stockpiling of Tamiflu", published in January 2014. According to the report he chaired the one oral evidence session, in the absence of committee chair Margaret Hodge, and as chair took a very active role in the questioning of witnesses.
The summary of the report reads:
- The Department of Health (the Department) spent £424 million on stockpiling Tamiflu, an antiviral medicine used in the treatment of influenza, for use in a pandemic, but had to write off £74 million of its Tamiflu stockpile as a result of poor record-keeping by the NHS.
- There is a lack of consensus over how well Tamiflu works, in particular whether it reduces complications and mortality. Discussions over this issue among professionals have been hampered because important information about clinical trials is routinely and legally withheld from doctors and researchers by manufacturers. This longstanding regulatory and cultural failure impacts on all of medicine, and undermines the ability of clinicians, researchers and patients to make informed decisions about which treatment is best. There are also concerns about the information made available to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) which assesses a medicine's clinical and cost-effectiveness for use in the NHS.
Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science and Bad Pharma, and co-founder of the AllTrials campaign welcomed the report calling it "a complete vindication of AllTrials’ call for all the results, of all the trials, on all the uses of all currently prescribed treatments".
Mr Bacon was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on the release of the report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25586370
Some of the statistics used by Mr Bacon in this interview have been criticised: http://dianthus.co.uk/clinical-trial-disclosure-myths-and-realities
On 6th May 2008, Richard Bacon 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.
Libel Law Reform
In January 2010, Richard Bacon signed 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.
In January 2006, Mr Bacon responded to a report highlighting lower truancy rates at faith schools saying that:
- "This supports other evidence about the good performance of faith schools. Of the top 100 primary schools in the 2005 National Curriculum tests, 69 per cent are faith schools, with Church of England or Roman Catholic primary schools making up four of the top five places.
- "This report gives another example of how faith schools are leading the way in creating a supportive atmosphere that unites parents, pupils, teachers and governors. Absences are kept low because parents have a high regard for their local school and because children enjoy attending.
- "There is significant evidence that faith schools of all types perform better in preventing unauthorised absence than their non-faith counterparts and this evidence should not be ignored."
Publication of Gateway Reviews
In 2006, with the Labour government fighting the release of Gateway IT reviews by the Office of Government Commerce on the ID card scheme, Mr Bacon, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, was quoted as saying "It is extraordinary that the government would go to such lengths to prevent the publication of Gateway reviews."
- HTML: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmpubacc/295/29502.htm
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