In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Simon Hughes voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 20 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.
On 11th October 2012, Mr Hughes appeared on BBC's Question Time. One question was on the topic of Jeremy Hunt's recent remarks on the abortion limit. Mr Hughes said that for him "the one test is viability" which was "either 24 weeks or very near it. It may be 23, it might just be 22", and believed that we should have "evidence-led decision, and not prejudice-led decision". The complete set of panellist responses can be viewed here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01nclgx/Question_Time_11_10_2012/ (at 50:30)
In February 2015 Simon Hughes 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. 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. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed. After clearing both Houses mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.
Simon Hughes signed the February 2009 Early Day Motion 754: MMR Vaccine and the Media supporting the use of the MMR vaccine. The motion expressed disappointment with the reporting of the vaccine by Jeni Barnett on her LBC radio show in January 2009, and expressed the hope that future reporting of the issue of MMR would be less sensationalist and more evidence-based.
Simon Hughes voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its second reading in February 2013. However he then voted against a programme for the Biil - a proposed timetable for its progress through Parliament - along with many who opposed the Bill.
During the May 2013 third reading of the Bill and debate on proposed amendments, Mr Hughes stated:
- "Let me put my position on the record. I believe, have believed and was brought up to believe that marriage is ordained by God. I believe that marriage is traditionally ordained by God to be between one man and one woman. I believe that marriage was set up by God for the creation of children. I believe that it was to link the biological needs of children with their biological parents. I believe that it was for biological complementarity. I believe that it was for gender complementarity, and that it was a gift of God in creation. That is why I have taken a traditional Christian and other-faith view on how marriage has traditionally been—for one man and one woman—which was the case long before we legislated for such things in this country and made them the law of the land."
At the end of the debate Mr Hughes did not vote either for or against the Bill in its final form.
Policymaking On Drugs And Alcohol
Simon Hughes signed Early Day Motion 2244 calling for Government policy on alcohol and drugs misuse and harm to be based on scientific evidence. The motion came shortly after the sacking of Government drug adviser David Nutt by Home Secretary Alan Johnson in 2009.
Libel Law Reform
In February 2010, Simon Hughes 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 February 2010, Simon Hughes signed Early Day Motion 524: Recognising Climate Change which states that "this House agrees that climate change is happening and is man-made" and calls this statement a "fact, which has the support of the overwhelming majority of the scientific community".
University Tuition Fees
Mr Hughes did not vote either for or against increasing the upper limit on university tuition fees to £9000 in the December 2010 vote. He explained his decision in an article in the Evening Standard: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/simon-hughes-why-i-abstained-in-tuition-fees-vote-6545836.html
In October 2010, Simon Hughes signed Early Day Motion 767: Science is Vital Campaign. The motion stated that the house "believes that continued investment in research is vital in order to meet the technological and social challenges of the 21st century, and to continue to attract high-tech industries to invest here; further believes that large cuts to science funding are a false economy, due to evidence that research investment fuels economic growth".
- Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130521/debtext/130521-0002.htm#130521-0002.htm_spnew142
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