Stephen Williams

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Stephen Williams was the Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West from 2005 until 2015.

Mr Williams did a Reddit AMA in January 2014:


In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Stephen Williams voted to keep the current time limit of 24 weeks in line with the scientific and medical consensus[1].

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 Stephen Williams 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.

MMR Vaccine

Stephen Williams 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.[5]

Animals in Medical Research

In 2006, Stephen Williams signed Early Day Motion 1850: Animals in Medical Research which noted that "animal research is only permitted where there is no better alternative and that pain and suffering are minimised and balanced against the potential benefit to humans and animals", supported "the building of the new state of the art biomedical research laboratory at Oxford University", condemned "unlawful animal rights extremism, including any violence, harassment or intimidation of those associated with lawful animal research", and supported "the well-regulated use of animals in medical research".[6]

Science Funding

In October 2010, Stephen Williams 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".[7]

Policymaking On Drugs And Alcohol

Sacking of David Nutt

Stephen Williams 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.


July 2013, Mr Williams tweeted his response to the announcement that the government was planning to ban "legal high" khat:

"criminalising khat is stupid waste of time for govt. and our police - asking Theresa May for a meeting - need science led drugs policy"[8]

The same day he was quoted on his website:

"As a Liberal Democrat I have always supported a science-led approach to drugs and as such I cannot support the move to ban khat.
"The Government's own experts reviewed khat and concluded that it should not be criminalised. I do not advocate the use of khat, which has been known to have negative side effects, but criminalising its users is a waste of time and money for the government and our police."
"I will now work with my Lib Dem colleagues to oppose this move and hope to meet with the Home Secretary to personally put the case that this is a poorly thought policy which will harm, rather than help, many of my constituents in Bristol, especially Somalis"[9]

Libel Law Reform

In December 2009, Stephen Williams signed Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law[10]. 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".

Same-Sex and Humanist Marriage

Stephen Williams voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at both its second reading in February 2013[11] and its third reading in May 2013[12].

In March 2013, during the committee stage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, Mr Williams proposed an amendment to allow humanist marriages in England and Wales.[13]



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