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Embryology

Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 18 June 2007 (WA 8–9) regarding the distinction between a pronucleus and a nucleus, whether cells containing pronuclei and nuclei are also distinct; and whether it would be accurate to describe the polar body of an oocyte that contains a pronucleus as equivalent to the blastomeres of an embryo that contain nuclei. [HL674]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 9 November (WA 111) and the ensuing letter from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) Legal Advisor on 7 December, whether the polar body of an egg is identified as identical to or distinct from the blastomere of an embryo according to paragraph 14.24 of the HFEA's Code of Practice (6th Edition) and the Journal of Histochemistry & Cytochemistry, Volume 53, Issue 3, pages 255–60. [HL675]

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 9 November (WA 111) and the ensuing letter from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority Legal Advisor on 7 December, which professional bodies have consistently described the polar body of an egg as if it was identical to one of the blastomeres from a subsequent embryo; and with what frequency such terms have been used synonymously in academic literature. [HL676]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that it would not be accurate to describe the polar body of an oocyte that contains a pronucleus as equivalent to the blastomeres of an embryo that contain nuclei. The HFEA has also advised that it has never identified the polar body of an egg as being identical to the blastomere of an embryo.

The content of professional body guidelines is a matter for the professional bodies themselves and not the HFEA.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have responded to reports in the Independent on 6 December about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and patient protection, suggesting it is too close to the clinics it regulates. [HL786]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have investigated allegations that Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority inspections are insufficiently rigorous to identify problems in clinics. [HL787]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the areas for improvement acknowledged by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's chief executive; and what changes are being made as a result. [HL788]

The Government are aware of the findings of the Hampton Implementation Review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), to which the Independent on Sunday’s articles refer.

Since the review in April 2009, the HFEA’s change programme has continued, with many improvements made to the way in which the authority conducts its business. The HFEA has advised that it accepts that there are still areas for improvement, some of which it has already started work on. These include introducing a new risk-based compliance cycle, which the authority will roll out over the next few months. The HFEA has already streamlined its licensing process by introducing an executive licensing panel to approve straightforward licence applications. The members of the authority had initial discussions about the Hampton report at their meeting on 9 December 2009. The members will have a more detailed discussion on the findings at their next meeting on 20 January 2010.

The Government are satisfied that the HFEA remains fit for purpose.