§ Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood)
I wish to present a petition signed by Estella Clarke who is the secretary of the Ladywood Labour party and 208 other people, men and women, from all parts of the country. It calls on hon. Members to vote against the enormously misleadingly titled Unborn Children (Protection) Bill, which would prevent many infertile couples — an estimated one in 10 of all couples — from having children. Indeed, the Bill should be called the Prevention of any Chance of Many Children Being Born and Many Families having Children Bill.
I strongly associate myself with the sentiments of the petition because, as well as preventing infertile couples from having children, it will— this may be even more important—prevent research from taking place to enable couples who know that they have a congenital handicap from being able to bear a healthy child. Any hon. Member who wishes to vote for the Bill will have to take full responsibility for that.
The supporters of the petition believe that research in this area should be tightly controlled, but we feel that a properly considered Bill should be brought forward by the Government and that the present Bill should not proceed any further.
600 To save the time of the House, I have not read out the petition and have simply summarised the sentiments of those who have signed it.
To lie upon the Table.