The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill – Commons vote breakdown
And so it came to pass that on the eighth day Parliament created animal-human hybrids, so-called ‘saviour siblings’, and fatherless IVF children, because God had shown himself deficient.
The voting patterns were:
(Courtesy of The Public Whip )
It is worth noting that:
Just under 70% of conservative MPs turned out to vote as opposed to 82.2% of Labour. It is worth asking why the Conservative turnout was so low for such an important Bill.
Only 16 Government MPs voted against the Bill – just 5.6% of those who turned out. Prominent Labour MPs who voted against the Bill were Jim Dobbin, Frank Field and Ruth Kelly, who had resigned from the Cabinet a few weeks prior to the vote ‘to spend more time with her family’.
Of the 49 Conservatives who voted with the Government, 25 were front bench MPs including David Cameron, George Osborne and Oliver Letwin.
The majority of Liberal Democrats voted with the Government, with just over one third voting against. Their turnout was 73%. Prominent Lib-Dems who voted against were Vince Cable, Alan Beith and Charles Kennedy.
All the Northern Ireland MPs who turned up (DUP, SDLP) voted against the Bill, though the UUP's sole MP, Lady Hermon, appears to have purposely absented herself (again). Notably, two thirds of the SNP also opposed the Bill.
A small cross-party group of MPs were planning to hijack the Bill to introduce a series of amendments to the Abortion Act, which, if passed, would have meant abortion on request up to 24 weeks; nurse abortion; GP surgery abortion with ‘completion’ at home, and extension of the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. There was even an amendment proposing prison sentences of up to two years for pro-life pregnancy crisis counsellors found guilty of ‘misleading advertising’.
However, the Government succeeded in scheduling the discussion of amendments so that there was not enough time to discuss abortion-related issues. Harriet Harman and her cohorts were concerned that this would be a ‘bridge too far’ for pro-life Labour MPs and that they might create enough mischief to jeopardise the Bill altogether.
This means that all attempts to liberalise the abortion law have failed - for the time being.
Ms Harman has, however, promised to make parliamentary time available to introduce new measures to bring the 1967 law ‘up to date’.
Cranmer is sure this will not occur this side of a general election, for the Labour Party sorely needs to persuade disillusioned Roman Catholics back to the Labour fold.