Skip to main content

Human Tissue Transplants

Volume 980: debated on Wednesday 5 March 1980

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will introduce legislation in Scotland to allow hospital authorities to take the kidneys of anyone where clinical death has been established by two doctors, other than those who during their lifetime have contracted out by registering with a central computer that they do not wish their organs taken from their body in the event of their death.

I am not persuaded that there is sufficient public support for "opting out" arrangements to justify the very large expenditure that would be needed to set up a computerised register of the wishes of individuals concerning the removal of their organs after death.

Given the fact that the hon. Gentleman's ministerial colleagues at the Elephant and Castle have cold feet as a result of a rather doubtful Marplan survey, should not the Scottish Office be bold and provide experimental legislation? Is it not true that as a kidney machine costs £5,000, and as running costs total £14,000, many treatable cases will not receive any help?

The hon. Gentleman must know that legislation relating to transplants has been on a United Kingdom basis. We do not consider that there is any need for separate legislation in Scotland. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services dug out some figures about 15 months ago on the cost. The capital cost for a computer to retain the necessary information would be £2 million. Setting up a register would cost £3 million, and there would be running costs of £1,500,000.

Does my hon. Friend accept that there is a practical difficulty in that very interesting suggestion? As a result of a recent court decision, the admissibility of evidence stemming from a computer has been very much restricted. Is not that a reason for encouraging a debate on those issues?