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Human Tissue Transplants

Volume 982: debated on Wednesday 2 April 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, pursuant to his statement, Official Report, 5 March 1980, column 464, he will make a statement outlining what specific action he has taken to encourage the possibility of a wide debate on recent court decisions involving the admissibility of evidence in relation to computers and opting-out schemes for kidney transplants.

I shall be glad to welcome any debate on these matters whether in this House or elsewhere; but I am not convinced that recent surveys show much support for the hon. Gentleman's proposal that individuals wishing to "opt out" of having organs removed from their bodies after death should have their wishes recorded on a central computer.

Is that a parliamentary way of saying that the hon. Gentleman has done nothing?

No, it is not. It is the normal way of pointing out to an hon. Member that hardly a day goes by without this whole subject of transplants and organ removals being in the national newspapers. The Leader of the House is well aware of the number of subjects for which debates are requested and takes them all into consideration.

Is there not genuine concern about the fact that many organs that could be used are lost because of that critical margin of time for decision, which concerns the deceased and the relatives?

In view of what he said, is it not proper for the Under-Secretary of State to want to do all that he can to try to promote further discussion?

I am trying to promote further discussion, and the hon. Gentleman knows that we are fortunate in Scotland in that we have a higher realisation of the kidney donor scheme than in other parts of the United Kingdom as a result of the work done by my Department.