Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee Meeting – 11th February 2014

Chairman’s Announcements

David O’Mahony, a CU Council Member, was elected a member of the Committee.

Correspondence

The chairman had written to Jane Spencer at the Department of Health about the dangers of mitochondrial donations and the lack of an ethical framework. He asked for details of the advice received by the government. He received a reply from a senior official, saying there was an expert committee that had met three times and which advised that was no great danger in mitochondrial donation. There was no reply on the ethical basis. There was however a reference to a web site Catherine Sampson (sic). This is in fact a high powered scientific committee which has met twice and is due to meet again. Parliament in 2008 effectively cleared the way for mitochondrial donation. It was concluded it was safe for [laboratory animals] and should be tested on primates.  If used on humans it should be followed up for a long time; this is not in fact a green light. There has been a public consultation, now finished. It looks as if the government are determined to introduce mitochondrial donation. In 2008 the government had removed the right for those born via IVF et al to know the identity of their biological parents. This would mean the subjects of mitochondrial donation could not be informed of this. There had been no answer on the subject of ethics.  Britain has no medical ethics committee. “Consequential ethics” now seems popular, that is, the end justifies the means.  Any action on this taken by the Bishops’ Conference is to be advised to the Committee in due course.

MSP Vote on SSM 4th February 2014

This vote in the Scottish parliament to redefine marriage was carried by 105 votes to 18 with supporters of traditional marriage subject to verbal abuse. Amendments to protect teachers, adopters, fosterers etc. were all defeated. Scotland is becoming very nearly a totalitarian society. Anyone who disagrees with same sex marriage will be called intolerant, discriminatory and hateful and may lose their position in public bodies. Further, the Children and Young Person’s bill introduces a “Named Person” imposed by the state on every child without consent and without opt-out whose function, according to the Bill “cannot be carried out by a parent of the child or young person”. People are regarding developments in Scotland as a social revolution. People now live in fear of being overheard in a public place, being reported to the police and arrested, in some cases held overnight. It was agreed the CU should revive an active committee to support John Deighan in presenting parliamentary developments to the Catholic public. The guidelines for sex education were being revised; this should be resisted because current guidelines give parents a very strong position to demand to know what was being taught. The Labour party had tried to introduce sex education into the primary curriculum but had been defeated.

The Lunacek road map for LBGT rights has been overwhelmnigly accepted by the European Parliament.  It calls for the criminalisation of homophobia throughout Europe, for same sex marriage in every country, for teaching of homosexual practice to all children from which parents may not dissent and people who speak out against are to be silenced.

 

Plight of Syrian Refugees

The government has now agreed to take in a limited number of Syrian refugees.  A Syrian Catholic Bishop warned against the possibility of a mass exodus of educated Syrians, who would be needed during the process of reconstruction and development in the hopefully near future.

Assisted Dying

The Falconer Bill is not being put before the House of Lords, although Lord Falconer denied claims in a Times article (20th January) that his Bill was about euthanasia, rather it was about allowing those terminally ill patients wishing to die access to drugs to enable them to do so.  Belgium and Dutch law covers the non-terminally ill.   A Bill on Assisted Dying is likely to be presented in the next session of Parliament, with input from Living and Dying Well, which will hopefully be better drafted than the Belgian and Dutch versions.

Sir Edward Leigh MP – Further Questions on Abortion

The government reported there had been an error in their previous reply. Sir Edward therefore asked the following questions:

i.      When the problem on the extraction of data had first started and what the government intended to do about it.

ii.     Is there any data on how many women seeking abortion had actually met the authorising medical practitioner;

iii.   How many of these practitioners have training in mental health issues.

A ComRes poll had found that 95% of the public felt it was wrong for a woman to have an abortion without seeing doctor.

Westminster Hall Speech on Marriage – Sir Edward Leigh MP

This speech was well received by the press.  The speech was part of a Westminster Hall debate about strengthening relationships among couples.

Any Other Business

Injunctions to prevent Nuisance and Annoyance replacing ASBOs had been defeated by the Lords and replaced by Injunctions against causing Harassment, Alarm or Distress.

A UN committee on the Rights of the Child severely criticised the Holy See for concealing child abuse by priests. In fact responsibility here lies with diocesan bishops, not the Holy See, who must act in accordance with the civil law of the local jurisdiction which subsists to Canon Law.