“forcing the amendment through could undermine their attempts to broker an agreement..”

According to a Daily Telegraph report the suggested amendments to the Human Embryology Bill discussed here will not be supported by pro-choice Labour MPs, although opposition MPs may still propose the changes.

Pro-choice MPs had been confident of success when the Bill returns to the Commons next week, particularly given the forthcoming departure from the Cabinet of Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary, who as a committed Catholic had forced Gordon Brown to allow ministers a free vote when it was last debated. But the Ulster political situation has deteriorated recently, with the Executive failing to meet as scheduled as a result of a disagreement between unionists and republicans over the devolution of policing and justice.

While abortion is one area where Northern Ireland’s politicians largely concur – with both Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party opposed to legalisation – ministers fear that forcing the amendment through could undermine their attempts to broker an agreement. As a result, pro-choice Labour MPs have been taken aside and warned not to proceed with their plan.

An amendment may still be tabled to the Bill by an Opposition MP, probably from the Liberal Democrat side, but without the backing of the powerful female Labour pro-choice group, it has little chance of success.

, , , ,

  • Danny Boy

    What absolute bollocks. HOW is this supposed to hurt the peace process? Give the boys a common enemy for once.

    It’s DUP support for its pet projects Labour’s worried about, not us.

  • Brian Walker

    From the Telegraph story:

    “The message was underlined at the “Ulster Fry” breakfast meeting at Labour Party Conference, where MPs mingled with Northern Irish politicians – who told them they would consider breaking off communication with the Government over the issue.”

    What humbug, that MPs would threaten to cut their own throats on the Executive deadlock over the abortion issue. How irrelevant a threat in that both sides are anti-abortion anyway; and how hypocritical that “unionists” should not let an amendment in the Union parliament not take its course.

    This is what I call the “Violet Elizabeth Bott” strategy from the “William ” books, in which lisping Violet threatened to “thcream and thcream and thcream until I’m thick” to get her way.

    Now that I’ve got that of my chest, it was always clear that this amendment was not going to run. The scale of local opposition, although not constitutionally decisive, was politically so.

    Next up, we wait the final version of the guidelines – still due this month are they or will they stall again? – and see if they are compatible first with the Human Rights Act and then with the European Convention of Human Rights. I hope the FPA keep on with their robust approach. This is one route the local MPs can’t touch. Whatever the harrumphing about the ECHR, no government will retreat from it. Incidentally, the ECHR is not part of the EU machinery, although all EU States have adopted it.