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Volume 689: debated on Tuesday 6 February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 22 January (WA 203-04), why human embryos rather than those of other species are used for basic research; whether such basic research necessarily requires the creation of additional human embryos; and whether they will now provide an Answer to the Question for Written Answer tabled by Lord Alton of Liverpool (HL1046). [HL1646]

The Government have proposed, as part of their review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, that the law will make clear that basic research involving human embryos is permissible, subject to controls.

Schedule 2 to the Act sets out the activities for which licences may be granted. As specified in paragraph 3 of that schedule, licences for the purposes of a project of research involving human embryos cannot authorise any activity unless it appears to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to be research necessary or desirable for one or more of the purposes specified. Further, the law makes clear that no licence shall be granted unless the authority is satisfied that any proposed use of the embryos is necessary for the purposes of the particular research project.

The Question for Written Answer tabled by Lord Alton of Liverpool (HL1046) was answered on 22 January (WA 203-04), together with HL1043, 1044 and 1045.