Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee 22nd October 2013

Chairman’s Announcements

The Committee for 2013-2014 was announced.  The Officers of the Committee remain as before, although Angela Gracey has retired and Rosalind Bearcroft, together with Stuart Sexton, is vice chair.  There are presently three vacancies and names were sought to fill these.

Lord Falconer is now in the Shadow Cabinet so will not be advancing an assisted dying bill for now, although something akin to it might be put forward in Scotland.

Same Sex Marriage

C4M intend to keep the fight alive on this issue and not let politicians off the hook.  The Committee’s view was that this issue is now behind us.

End of Life Care

The Catholic Medical Association has put out a statement on end of life care and Dr Tony Cole was congratulated by the Committee for all his hard work in helping to bring about the demise of the Liverpool Care Pathway.  NHS Trusts are looking at end of life procedures.  An end of life care Bill of Rights is now under considerations by such groups as Living & Dying Well.  There was a discussion on gender-based abortion – in the majority of cases these are undertaken given the supposed unstable mental state of the mother.  Failure to prosecute for such abortions was felt to be an ethical, rather than a judicial matter.

All Party Group on international freedom of religion or belief

This group has written a letter signed by a number of MPs, asking the Government to appoint an ambassador for international freedom of religion or belief.

Proposed anti-slavery Bill

This welcome proposal seeks to disrupt gang trafficking amongst men and women and also to offer some form of help to the victims.  The Bishops would be meeting with Frank Field MP to discuss this further.

Parliamentary Lobbying Bill

“Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14”. It was intended to limit the ability influence elections. It would limit spend and increase the scope of activities covered.

The Bill:

  • introduces a statutory register of consultant lobbyists and establishes a Registrar to enforce the registration requirements;
  • regulates more closely election campaign spending by those not standing for election or registered as political parties ;
  • Strengthens the legal requirements placed on trade unions in relation to their obligation to keep their list of members up to date. It could have a chilling effect on some charities.

“One of Us” Campaign

This campaign aims to acquire a million signatures with a view to opening a debate in the European Parliament on ending funding from research using embryonic stem cells (we can’t destroy embryos because they are “one of us”).