Afriyie was born in Wimbledon, London, the son of an English mother and a father from Ghana. He is the first black Conservative MP. He was educated at Addey and Stanhope School and has a degree in agricultural economics from Imperial College (Wye) of the University of London. He made his maiden speech on 20 May 2005.
A member of the Conservative Party since 1990, Afriyie was selected as Parliamentary candidate for the traditionally Conservative constituency of Windsor in October 2003. He was elected at the 2005 election with an increased share of the vote (49.5%) and a swing to the Conservatives of 1.2%.
Science and Technology activities
Afriyie was a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee from 2005 until its abolition in July 2007 (the committee was re-established in 2009). He was subsequently made the Conservative spokesman for Science and Innovation and presented Conservative science policy in the run-up to the 2010 general election. However, he was not made Science Minister in the coalition government, the role going instead to David Willetts.
Afriyie, who does not himself have a science degree, told the press:
- “The evidence-based scientific approach extends well beyond subjects like embryology or GM crops. It is also critical to social policy and criminal sentencing, and it cuts across all areas of government.”
The media also reported that Afriyie had made plans for classes explaining scientific method and basic concepts which would be included in the induction programme for all Tory MPs after the next election. Sitting members and peers would also be offered the opportunity to attend. Following the general election, with Afriyie no longer leading Conservative science policy, the plan was carried out in a reduced form, with a single session and voluntary attendance.
In 2010 Mr Afriyie was appointed chair of the board of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).
Mr Afriyie is currently (as of 2012) chair of the cross-party Parliamentary Space Committee (although the group does not appear to be very active).
Future of Science Investment
At a cross-party debate in November 2009, Afriyie said the Conservative Party was committed to the “principle” of ring-fencing science investment, but he warned that any incoming government would be confronted with an “empty financial cupboard”.
- "We respect the principle of the ring-fence… But I’m concerned that some of Labour’s ring-fencing rhetoric might lull the science community into a false sense of security. The current ring-fence expires in 2011. The Government has allocated no money whatsoever to science beyond that point… The Government can’t ring-fence money it hasn’t allocated."
Afriyie stressed that the Conservatives planned no major “reworking” of the Government’s science policy.
In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Adam Afriyie voted against reducing the abortion time limit to 12 weeks from 24 weeks, which is in line with the scientific and medical consensus.. Afriyie did not vote on the later 16, 20 and 22 weeks proposals. 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.
In February 2015 Adam Afriyie 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.
Hidden Pharmaceutical Trial Data
In December 2012 Mr Afriyie was one of six MPs to write a joint letter to the Public Accounts Committee to request action on hidden trial data and specifically Tamiflu.
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