William McCrea

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William McCrea was the DUP MP for Mid Ulster (1983–1997) and South Antrim (2000–2001, 2005–2015).

Homeopathy

William McCrea was one of 206 MPs to sign the March 2007 Early Day Motion 1240 calling for the positive recognition of NHS homeopathic hospitals[1].

In March 2010, following the publication of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's report "Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy", McCrea signed Early Day Motion 908: Science and Technology Committee Report on Homeopathy, which was critical of the report[2].

In June 2010, McCrea signed Early Day Motions 284: BMA Annual Representative Meeting Motions on Homeopathy[3], 285: Effect of Homeopathic Remedies on Breast Cancer Cells[4], 286: Homeopathic Medicines in the Treatment of Moderate to Severe Depression[5], and 287: Homeopathy and Chronic Primary Insomnia[6].

Abortion

In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), William McCrea voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks[7]. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill. Also the Abortion Act 1967 does not currently apply to Northern Ireland.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report of October 2007[8] had found no good evidence of change since the limit was set in 1990, and hence no new reason for a reduction. However, it acknowledged that this was only one of many factors to be taken into account when legislating, and did not make any recommendations as to how MPs should vote.

Dr McCrea voted for[9] 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. During the debate McCrea stated:

"Perhaps this is not about this particular debate on the amendment, but I have to say that some of us in this House have the conviction that the emphasis seems to be on the right of the woman and that it is about time we spoke about the right of the unborn child. They have rights too."[10]

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 William McCrea voted against allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to give birth to children who would not inherit the disease[11]. 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[12]. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed[13]. The majority of MPs voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation.

Sex Education

In May 2011 Dr McCrea voted in favour of Nadine Dorries' Sex Education (Required Content) "10 minute" Bill[14]. The Bill stated that "such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity"[15]. 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[16] (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[17], plus this new content on abstinence, with further content being up to the individual school)[18]. 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[19].

Same-Sex Marriage

In 2012 Dr McCrea, like all the other DUP MPs, 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."[20]

The Coalition for Marriage describes itself as "an umbrella group of individuals and organisations ... backed by politicians, lawyers, academics and religious leaders"[21]. They are supported by the Evangelical Alliance[22] and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey[23], and have connections with other Christian groups[24].

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"[25].

Dr McCrea subsequently voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its second reading in February 2013[26] and its third reading in May 2013[27].

MMR Vaccine

William McCrea 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.[28]

Science Funding

In October 2010, William McCrea 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".[29]

Blasphemy Law

On 6th May 2008, William McCrea voted with the four other DUP MPs present against a Lords amendment to abolish the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel[30]. The amendment was nonetheless passed by a vote of 378 to 57.

Libel Law Reform

In February 2010, William McCrea signed Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law[31]. 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.

References

  1. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2006-07/1240
  2. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/908
  3. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/284
  4. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/285
  5. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/286
  6. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/287
  7. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2008-05-20&number=199&mpn=William_McCrea
  8. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmsctech/1045/104502.htm
  9. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110907/debtext/110907-0002.htm#110907-0002.htm_div339
  10. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110907/debtext/110907-0001.htm#st_o216
  11. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2015-02-03&number=147&mpn=William_McCrea
  12. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/2014-10-01_Mitochondrial_donation__an_introductory_briefing_note_-_final.pdf
  13. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31063500
  14. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110504/debtext/110504-0001.htm#stpa_o51
  15. http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-12/sexeducationrequiredcontent.html
  16. http://www.thetwentyfirstfloor.com/?p=2325
  17. http://www.drpetra.co.uk/blog/what-do-we-want-from-sex-and-relationships-education/
  18. http://educationforchoice.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/abstain-from-abstinence-please-dorries.html
  19. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jan/20/nadine-dorries-sexual-abstinence-bill-withdrawn
  20. http://c4m.org.uk/signatures/
  21. http://c4m.org.uk/aboutus/
  22. http://www.eauk.org/articles/coalition-for-marriage-launched.cfm
  23. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17102352
  24. http://bengoldacre.posterous.com/thinking-out-loud-who-are-the-coalition-for-m
  25. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2012/feb/20/1
  26. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=William_McCrea
  27. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=William_McCrea
  28. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2008-09/754
  29. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/767
  30. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2008-05-06&number=170&display=allvotes
  31. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/423

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