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Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 10 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the merits of giving all surgical patients the opportunity to donate for research purposes tissue which would otherwise be incinerated; (262715)

(2) what steps his Department has taken to increase donations by surgical patients of human tissue for research purposes.

The Human Tissue Act 2004 allows for the storage and use of human tissue, with the appropriate consent, for a number of health-related purposes including research. The Act applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Act also allows tissue removed from a living person to be used without consent for research which has been ethically approved by a research ethics authority, providing the researcher will not be able to identify the person from whom the material has come.

The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) issues codes of practice setting out good practice in seeking consent for activities within its remit, including storage and use of tissue for research purposes. The HTA has recently consulted on a new code of practice on research. It is for NHS trusts and research establishments to develop local arrangements within the regulatory framework set out by the HTA.

The HTA launched in February 2009 a review of how recent human tissue legislation has impacted on the research community, and how it has been implemented by the HTA. Further details can be found on the HTA's website at: