Mike Hancock

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Mike Hancock was the MP for Portsmouth South 1984–1987 (Social Democrat Party) and 1997–2015 (elected Liberal Democrat, but resigned from the party in September 2014 and continued to sit as an Independent[1]).

Mr Hancock was placed at number 2 in political blogger Dizzy's March 2009 list of "EDM Signature Whores", for signing 802 Early Day Motions compared to fewer than 100 for a typical MP in the same period[2].

Mr Hancock was previously listed as one of the 20 qualifying members of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group.

Healthcare

Homeopathy

Mr Hancock was one of 206 MPs to sign the March 2007 Early Day Motion 1240 calling for the positive recognition of NHS homeopathic hospitals[3].

When asked by journalist Tom Whipple what evidence the MP had used in deciding to support the motion, Mr Hancock responded:

"Thankfully I do not need any scientific qualifications to answer this – not least because I do not have any any.
I have always used the genuine experiences of my constituents as the best guide to what works, and what is good, for the people I represent. Homeopathic medicine is good example, as I well understand the skepticism of some people – particularly scientists. However, over the many years I have represented people in Portsmouth, either as a Councillor, or as a Member of Parliament, I have heard countless stories about how alternative treatments have benefited them.
As far as I am concerned that was all the evidence I needed to sign EDM 1240."[4]

Following the publication of the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee's report "Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy" in February 2010, Mike Hancock signed Early Day Motion 908: Science and Technology Committee Report on Homeopathy, which was critical of the report[5].

In June 2010, Mr Hancock signed Early Day Motions 284: BMA Annual Representative Meeting Motions on Homeopathy[6], 285: Effect of Homeopathic Remedies on Breast Cancer Cells[7], 286: Homeopathic Medicines in the Treatment of Moderate to Severe Depression[8], and 287: Homeopathy and Chronic Primary Insomnia[9]. A few days later he signed the additional EDM 342: British Medical Association Motions on Homeopathy[10].

However, in July 2010, Mr Hancock signed EDM 387: Homeopathy[11] which, unlike all the above EDMs, was strongly against homeopathy and supported the findings of the Science and Technology Select Committee report on homeopathy.

In May 2011, Mike Hancock signed Early Day Motion 1820 which welcomed a campaign to "place homeopathy research on the national agenda as a credible scientific field of inquiry" and called for the Government to facilitate research into homeopathy[12].

Herbal Medicines

Mike Hancock has signed a number of Early Day Motions that support the use of herbal medicines. These include EDM 1103: Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (2005)[13], EDM 1549: Herbal Clinic at The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (2008)[14], EDM 2080: Herbal Remedies (2008)[15], and EDM 295: Statutory Registration of Herbalists (2009)[16].

Miracle Cures

In June 2008, the MP signed Early Day Motion 1770, protesting the uncritical promotion by the media of Dore, a claimed miracle cure for dyslexia, in the absence of scientific proof of its value. [17]

Abortion

In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Mike Hancock voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 22 weeks against scientific and medical consensus which is currently 24 weeks[18]. 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.

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 Mike Hancock voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to have genetically related children who would not inherit the disease[19]. 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[20]. However, some religious groups had said that such procedures should not be allowed[21]. After clearing both Houses mitochondrial donation is now legal, regulated by the HFEA.

MMR Vaccine

Mike Hancock 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.[22]

Animal Testing

Mike Hancock proposed the May 2005 Early Day Motion 92: Animal Testing of Drugs[23] which declared the House to be in agreement with the group Europeans for Medical Progress (EMP) in expressing concern about the validity of results from animal testing, and called for independent and transparent scientific evaluation of the use of animals in medical research, citing support from 83% of GPs.

A response came in the form of an amendment proposed by Evan Harris[24] which removed all but the first few words of the original motion and, while expressing concern about unnecessary suffering of animals and insisting on tough regulations, it noted that such testing was "currently both essential and valuable", that the polling organisation that asked GPs about their views on animal testing had disassociated itself from EMP's interpretation of the poll, and that there had already been numerous independent inquiries into animal research.

Religion

Freedom of Religion

Mike Hancock signed the March 2007 Early Day Motion 1770 supporting freedom of religion and welcoming the launch of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain[25].

Atheist Bus Campaign

Following the adverts bought by the Atheist Bus Campaign on public transport in January 2009, Mike Hancock signed Early Day Motion 403 calling the adverts "religiously offensive and morally unhelpful"[26].

Blasphemy Law

In February 2005, Mike Hancock was the only Liberal Democrat MP, out of twenty-five who voted, to vote against the abolition of the offense of blasphemy[27]. This motion was rejected with the majority of the governing Labour party voting against it.

In May 2008 Mr Hancock voted with the rest of the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties to abolish blasphemy[28].

Same-Sex Marriage

Mike Hancock voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at both its second reading in February 2013[29] and its third reading in May 2013[30].

University Tuition Fees

In December 2010 Mike Hancock voted against increasing the upper limit on university tuition fees from £3290 per year to £9000 per year[31]. The proposed increase was a response to the Browne Report, published in October of that year, which had proposed a complete removal of any upper limit on fees, together with other measures (largely adopted by the coalition government) to ease the burden of repayment.

Science Education

Creationism

Mike Hancock signed Early Day Motion 2708 calling for schools to treat with caution creationist literature sent by the religious group 'Truth in Science'.[32]

Charles Darwin

Mike Hancock was one of 79 MPs who signed Early Day Motion 377 noting the achievements of Charles Darwin, and calling for Darwin's birthday to be designated a public holiday to honour "one of the fathers of modern science and one of Britain's greatest, if not the greatest, scientific minds."

Science Funding

In October 2010, Mike Hancock 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".[33]

Policymaking On Drugs And Alcohol

Mike Hancock 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 December 2009, Mike Hancock signed Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law[34]. 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".

Climate Change

In January 2010, Mike Hancock 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"[35].

Vote Survey 2010

In reply to an e-mail (08/04/10), Mike Hancock replied as follows;

1.       Will you be working to ensure electoral reform is put in place to ensure that every vote counts through proportional representation? Yes

2.       Will you ensure that political, personal, social and economic interests are secondary to any decision that seeks to halt climate change? Yes

3.       Do you agree that whaling, in any form - whether controlled or otherwise, should never be re-introduced and that in addition, the law should be fully enforced? Absolutely

4.       Do you think that government should fund faith schools? No, but they should be entitled to some grants for the activities that they carry out

5.       Should publicly funded faith schools be allowed to discriminate in their admissions and employment? No

6.       Should schools be allowed to teach creationism as an equivalent theory to evolution? Yes

7. How would you vote on assisted dying for the terminally ill? I believe there should be a proper debate. I’ll support the establishment of the policy of legally enforceable wills and that the person signing was verifiably confident to do so

8.   Should anti-discrimination and equality legislation make religious groups exempt from regulations that other organisations would have to follow? No, all treated the same in the  fair and equal society

9.       Should religious leaders have privileged access to decision makers? No more than any other group in the society

10.    Would you vote to retain or remove bishops from the house of Lords? Remove. I stand for a totally elected second chamber

11.    Do you support the use of public funds to provide unproven alternative ‘treatments’ such as homeopathy? Yes

12.    Should Sharia Law be allowed as an alternative system within UK law? No

13.    Do you support the reform of English and Welsh libel law to allow a stronger ’public interest’ defense? Yes

14.    Would you do everything in your power to ensure the BBC maintains its position as the world leader in public broadcasting, including ensuring that BBC6Music and the Asian Network are maintained? Yes

15.    Should policy-makers trust scientific evidence even when it appears counter-intuitive? Each case judges on its merits

16.    Do you think that abortion time limits should always be determined by the current scientific and medical consensus? No

17.    Do you agree that all decisions taken concerning British, European and Worldwide fishing should ensure the recovery of fish populations and more importantly, the ocean environments, before any political, social or economic interests? Yes

18.    Should an independent government adviser whose views in their area of expertise conflict with government policy be able to express those views publicly without fear of being sacked? Yes, that’s what they are paid to do by public, not government

References

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-29265679
  2. http://dizzythinks.net/2009/03/edm-signature-whores-200809.html
  3. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2006-07/1240
  4. http://statsdontlie.wordpress.com/2007/11/19/responses-from-signatories-to-homeopathy-motion/
  5. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/908
  6. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/284
  7. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/285
  8. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/286
  9. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/287
  10. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/342
  11. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/387
  12. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/1820
  13. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2005-06/1103
  14. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2007-08/1549
  15. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2007-08/2080
  16. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/295
  17. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2007-08/1770
  18. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/cmsctech/1045/104502.htm
  19. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2015-02-03&number=147&mpn=Mike_Hancock
  20. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/docs/2014-10-01_Mitochondrial_donation__an_introductory_briefing_note_-_final.pdf
  21. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31063500
  22. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2008-09/754
  23. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2005-06/92
  24. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2005-06/92#92A1
  25. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2006-07/1770
  26. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2008-09/403
  27. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2005-02-07&number=70
  28. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2008-05-06&number=170&display=allvotes
  29. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-02-05&number=151&mpn=Mike_Hancock
  30. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2013-05-21&number=11&mpn=Mike_Hancock
  31. http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2010-12-09&number=150&mpn=Mike_Hancock
  32. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2005-06/2708
  33. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/767
  34. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/423
  35. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2009-10/524

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