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Human Tissue Transplants

Volume 980: debated on Monday 3 March 1980

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My hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Mr. Pavitt) and I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the decision of the Leicester coroner to require confirmation in writing of applications for transplants to be carried out within his jurisdiction."
You may recall, Mr. Speaker, that I asked the Government one Friday if a statement was forthcoming. I notice that the Minister of State, Home Office, has done me the courtesy of sitting on the Front Bench. He will recollect that I asked an oral question last Thursday seeking an answer giving guidelines to coroners. The Leicester coroner has demanded that in future an application must be made in writing before a transplant takes place. This issue goes far beyond the boundaries of Leicester. It affects the whole of the United Kingdom. The issue is important, because probably at least 13,000 people wait each year for matching kidney tissues. The House will know that deterioration sets in within half an hour. If written confirmation and other so-called safeguards are required it will be difficult, and in many cases impossible, to obtain matching tissue. The practice of the past few years has led to a dramatic increase in the number of successful transplants.

The issue is urgent because doctors are understandably loth to become entangled with coroners. Doctors feel inhibited about asking relatives such a dreadful question. They have to ask relatives at their moment of maximum grief whether they will consent to the organs of their loved ones being removed. This matter is urgent because it affects hundreds of people who may be expecting the phone to ring. They may be lucky and they may obtain some type of matching tissue.

On Thursday the House recognised that the general issue was important. I argue that this is a matter for urgent debate. It cannot be raised under any other guise.

The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) gave me notice before noon today that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the decision of the Leicester coroner to require confirmation in writing of applications for transplants to be carried out within his jurisdiction."
I listened with deep care to the hon. Gentleman, and especially to his last sentence. I am not allowed to give the House the reasons behind any decision in connection with an application under Standing Order No. 9. I gave careful consideration to the representations of the hon. Gentleman, but I have to rule that the hon. Gentleman's submission does not fall within the provisions of Standing Order No. 9. And, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.