HC Deb 29 March 1945 vol 409 cc1525-6
40. Mr. Driberģ

asked the Minister of Health in how many clinics and by how many physicians are experiments now being conducted in the artificial insemination of women; how many children have been or are expected shortly to be born in Britain as a result of such experiments; how many of these children are the offspring of their mother's husband; how many of anonymous donors; and in the latter case, how the facts are recorded in the register of births.

Mr. Willink

I have no information on the first part of the Question beyond what has appeared in the medical Press, from which I understand that artificial insemination has been carried out at a voluntary clinic at Exeter. On the subsequent parts of the Question I have no information, but, so far as I am aware, no births have been registered as resulting from artificial insemination.

Mr. Driberģ

Will my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that this is a very serious development, with tremendous social and legal, as well as scientific, implications, with great possibilities and great dangers; and will he call for a full report from the physicians concerned, and make all the facts known to the House?

Mr. Willink

I will consider that question, but I am in some doubt whether I have power to call for a full report from physicians acting in a private capacity.

Mr. James Griffiths

Who is responsible for running this clinic?

Mr. Willink

I do not know precisely but it is a voluntary clinic.

Mr. Ivor Thomas

Would my right hon. and learned Friend consider having this added to the terms of reference of the Royal Commission on Population, who would have power to call evidence?

Mr. Willink

No, Sir, I doubt very much whether that body would be the appropriate body to consider this question.

Mr. McEntee

Is this not of sufficient importance for the Minister to seek these powers?

Mr. Driberģ

Is there any way by which this House can be informed on this tremendously important development?

Mr. J. J. Lawson

Surely, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not going to let a practice of such great importance to this country go uncontrolled while he is Minister of Health; and will he not take legal powers to deal with a matter of this kind?

Mr. Willink

This obviously has every possibility of being a most difficult and controversial subject. On the information I have at present, which, as I have told the House, is restricted to what has appeared in the medical Press, it is clear that it has many facets and many possibilities, but I will consider what has been suggested and whether I can obtain fuller information than has appeared so far.

Mr. De la Bère

Is not the whole matter a highly dangerous one?

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