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Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee 19th November 2013

Chairman’s Announcements

Mrs Josephine Robinson, a former Chairman (sic) of the Association of Catholic Women was elected to the Committee.

Correspondence

The Chairman had written to Princess Frankopan, a onetime Vatican adviser following the demise of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), as a result of the  the Neuberger Report.  He suggested that the group of doctors charged with looking into alternatives were keen supporters of the LCP, so there is a danger that it could be brought back and rebranded. His reason for writing was to remind Princess Frankopan that the LCP was taken up by 21 other countries including Malta, with practically no research undertaken.  The Anscombe Centre has signed up to the findings of the Neuberger Report.

LCP Follow Up ad End of Life Care Bill of Rights

The Government has set up a working party (most of the members contained therein were enthusiastic supporters of the LCP) too look into end of life care.  There is a real risk that the outcome could see a rebranding of the LCP.  Baroness Neuberger is aware of this development and is understood to be concerned.  Any end of life plan needs to be research based which the LCP was not and it is vital to ensure that any future plan has its base in solid research.   Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill would now be followed up by someone else.

Three Parent Children

A letter had been had written to the Prime Minister protesting about the government’s manifest intention to introduce the production of children with the genetic material from two mothers and one father. This was contrary to human dignity and international law. (see www.care.org.uk/threeparentchildren) but would need to be approved by parliament.

Parliamentary Lobbying Bill

The Bill is intended to limit the ability to influence elections for one year before the election. Organisations must register (£5,000 in England, £2,000 in Wales, Scotland or NI) and must present accounts three-monthly or weekly before elections with a cap on total spending. This would have a chilling effect on local charities including bishops but is not expected to affect the CU. The Electoral Commission was not consulted on this.

Syrian Refugee Crisis

A Paper on Tony Cole’s recent visit to Syria was presented.  It can be found on the News section of the CU website.

Sex education and the National Curriculum

Labour amendments proposed to the children and families bill would make personal, social, health education (PSHE) compulsory. Withdrawal from such lessons would no longer be at the discretion of parents but of the child. A working group to review SRE guidance was proposed which excluded parents. The Government would not accept these amendments and will not make sex education compulsory. However if Labour win the next Election, sex education would become compulsory. Parents would have no say on this.  OFSTED now wants to know if primary schools are teaching about same-sex families. The concern for secondary schools seemed to be homophobic bullying. The syllabus should promote marriage, including SSM but teachers can disagree with SSM provided they adopt a reasonable and professional tone.  Abortion is currently treated in this way. Guidance is needed by Catholic teachers on these subjects and the CES is working on this.

C4M and the Big Promise

The Big Promise was in fact separate from C4M. It was planning that on 8th Feb 2014, every couple in the UK will have the opportunity to re-affirm their marriage promises to each other. It plans to draw attention to the BIG Promise by coordinating those venues that wish to, in setting a new Guinness World Record for couples reaffirming their vows.

Any Other Business

The Committee heard that Kier Starmer has said that abortions based on gender are not being prosecuted due to defective legislation.  56 charities were due to meet with various MPs, Ministers and members of the House of Lords to discuss the unforeseen consequences of Government cut backs.