Fabian Richter

I sent the following questions (stolen from Exiled Preacher) to the top two candidates for Bath in the 2010 general election:

1. Do you believe that Christian values have a beneficial role to play in contemporary society?

2. Do you believe that marriage is for a man and a woman alone and that it is the duty of the State to do all it can to strengthen and encourage the institution of marriage?

3. Do you accept that people who believe that heterosexual marriage is the only proper context for sexual expression should be free to say so without falling foul of the law or losing their jobs?

4. Do you believe that churches should be free only to employ people whose beliefs and lifestyle are in accordance with Christian teaching?

5. Do you believe that the law on abortion is too lax, too restrictive or about right?

6. Do you think that the law on euthanasia should be changed?

7. Is British society broken, and if so how does your Party hope fix it?

Here’s Conservative candidate, Fabian Richter’s response:

I share the Conservative commitment to recognise marriage in the tax system. The Party is looking into how we will deliver that pledge. We are not committed to any one mechanism. Options include reforming the tax credits system to make it simpler and fairer. The current system leaves a third of recipients with the wrong payment, and claws over-payments back from millions. We are also investigating how we can make childcare better and more affordable. This could be done through tax relief on childcare, an equality allowance or transferable tax allowances.

On euthanasia, I do have some sympathy for terminally ill patients of sound mind suffering great pain and yearning for an end their lives. However, I suspect it may be impractical to legislate for this, without risking immediate abuse of the system for morally repugnant reasons (e.g., a relative wanting to get faster access to an inheritance). Also, it is a mere 60 years’ ago that the Nazis ran a large-scale euthanasia programme killing thousands of disabled people, which should make everyone especially wary of such a move. Life is a precious good. I am therefore inclined to maintain the current legal position under which active euthanasia remains illegal in the United Kingdom.

I thought it would be helpful for you if I set out our position on the key votes on the Equality Bill which took place in the House of Lords on 25th January on religious freedom. You may remember that at Report Stage in the House of Commons we said that we thought that the Government, in its original drafting of the Equality Bill, was narrowing the scope of the exemption on employment for the purposes of an organised religion. Conservative peers in the House of Lords ensured that this measure was defeated. The Government has now confirmed that it will accept these defeats and will not seek to bring them back to the Commons. Our approach was based on defending the current ability of organised religions to continue to insist that, where appropriate for certain posts, the individual would have to behave in accordance with the requirements of that faith as defined by the religion.  Despite how the debate was reported in some media, this is not just about sexual orientation but also, for example, whether a married priest is faithful to their spouse.  This requirement does not apply to all roles but to those for which adherence to the faith is important.

As far as abortion is concerned, as you know, on moral issues such as abortion MPs have a free vote in the House of Commons. My personal view on this issue is guided by two criteria. The first is the importance of individual morality which must respect the different personal and religious viewpoints that exist on this topic. My second criterion is whether the unborn child could survive outside the womb. I believe that the modern scientific evidence that has become available over the past few years raises some very important questions about our current abortion time limits of 24 weeks, the longest in Europe. We now know much more about survival rates for unborn babies, and some of them can indeed survive at 24 weeks’ pregnancy. I would therefore be willing to consider a reduction on the legal abortion limit from 24 to 22 weeks.

Don Foster’s answers to the same questions can be found here.