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Embryology

Volume 694: debated on Thursday 26 July 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 26 June (WA 129-30), whether definitions in the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill only apply in the context of that Bill; whether they apply to either the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 or the decision taken by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority appeals committee regarding licence R0153; from where the definitions employed in the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill derive; and how definitions of relevant terms from comparable sources differ; and [HL4957]

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 11 July (WA 222-23), whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is required only to consider research purposes; and whether it is able to license activities which are explicitly prohibited by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990; and [HL4958]

Further to the Written Answers by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 26 June (WA 129-30) and Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 11 July (WA 222-23), whether they will provide a fuller account of the reasoning employed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in granting licence R0153; and in what circumstances removal of all nuclear genes would not significantly alter the genetic structure of an embryo. [HL4959]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is an independent statutory body established by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. The HFEA has the responsibility for licensing research projects under this Act. A licence committee of the HFEA can only grant a research licence if it is shown to be necessary or desirable for one of the research purposes in the 1990 Act as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001.

The HFEA issued a research licence to the Newcastle Fertility Centre at LIFE (RO153) following appeal. A summary of the decision-making process is available on the HFEA website at www.hfea.gov.uk. This includes how it defined genetic structure of an embryo and its reasoning for issuing a licence for this specific project.

The Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill contains definitions of various terms. As the Bill amends the 1990 Act, the definitions it contains apply to clauses within the Bill itself and, where appropriate, will apply to the amended 1990 Act. The definitions in the Bill derive from the Government’s extensive review of the law in this area, including through public consultation, and differ from other definitions principally because they have been drawn up for the purpose of the updated legislation.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 26 June (WA 129-30), what assessment they have made of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's report on government proposals for the regulation of hybrid and chimera embryos (HC 272), in particular, whether there should be a total prohibition of any form of reproductive cloning; and what assessment they have made of whether the lack of such prohibition would permit unethical experimentation. [HL4960]

The government response to the report of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Government Proposals for the Regulation of Hybrid and Chimera Embryos, was published in June 2007 (CM7139). It is available in the Library.

The Government are committed to a ban on reproductive cloning and this position is maintained in the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill, which prohibits placing in a woman anything but permitted sperm, eggs or embryos.