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Written Answers

Volume 416: debated on Thursday 22 January 1981

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Written Answers

Teratology: Research By Medical Research Council

asked Her Majesty's Government:What steps the Medical Research Council is taking to support research into teratology.

The Medical Research Council supports research relevant to teratology both in its own establishments and by way of grants to research workers in university departments and medical schools.At the council's clinical research centre studies are being undertaken on (1) the effects of waste anaesthetic gases on operating theatre staff and teratogenic effects in animals and control of contamination, and (2) on the effects of anaesthetics on cardiac contractility, cell motility and division and mutagenesis.The following projects in universities and medical schools are currently supported by the council:

Name of ProjectInstitute
Positional signalling in chick limb morphogenesisMiddlesex Hospital Medical School
Hamster teratogens in potato sproutsLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
The effect of aminocentesis and liquor drainage on pulmonary development in the Macaque monkeyUniversity College London School of Medicine
Nutritional mechanisms in the early rat embryo and their susceptibility to modification by teratogensUniversity of Leicester
Effects of ethyl alcohol on cell acquisition, migration and differentiation in the developing brainRoyal Postgraduate Medical School
Development of whole-embryo culture methods for studying teratological problemsUniversity of Cambridge
Further studies on the effects in rodents of fusarium mycotoxinsRoyal Veterinary College, London
Environmental Factors responsible for the appearance of neural tube defects in curly-tail miceGuy's Hospital Medical School, London
In addition, other basic work is also being carried out under the council's auspices involving or relevant to teratogens in the field of (1) mammalian and vertebrae development; (2) studies in the mechanisms of mutagenesis of human and other mammalian cells; (3) neural tube defects including anencephalia and spina bifida; and (4) rubella and foetal development studies generally.

Prisoners In Police Cells: Visit Requests

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many requests have been made by chairmen of boards of visitors and of local benches to the Metropolitan Commissioner to visit prisoners in police cells since the beginning of the prison officers' dispute.

I understand that the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has received no formal requests, but that at least one such visit has taken place by local arrangement. I regret that information about the precise number of visits that have taken place is not readily available.


asked Her Majesty's Government:What decision they have reached on whether there should be a statutory right to a passport.

After careful consideration the Government have concluded that they should maintain the present system, whereby United Kingdom passports are issued at the discretion of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs exercising the Royal Prerogative.In practice, refusal of passport facilities to United Kingdom nationals is confined to certain well defined categories of which Parliament has been informed from time to time. These are:

  • (a) A minor whose journey is known to be contrary to a court order, to the wishes of a parent or other person or authority to whom a court has awarded custody, care and control, or to the provisions of Section 25(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, as amended, or Section 52 of the Adoption Act 1958, as amended.
  • (b) A person for whose arrest a warrant has been issued in the United Kingdom, or who is wanted by the United Kingdom police on suspicion of a serious crime.
  • (c) In very rare cases, a person whose past or proposed activities are so demonstrably undesirable that the grant or continued enjoyment of passport facilities would be contrary to the public interest.
  • (d) A person repatriated at public expense, until the debt has been repaid.
  • Under successive Administrations it has been extremely rare to refuse a person under category (c). Decisions in these cases are always taken personally by the Secretary of State.

    The present system has worked well and it is generally accepted that under successive Administrations this exercise of the Royal Prerogative has not been abused. The Government sympathise with the feeling behind the proposal for a statutory right, but they are not satisfied that a change from the present system would be generally advantageous.

    House adjourned at eleven minutes before eight o'clock.