HC Deb 21 June 1990 vol 174 cc1178-224
Mr. Michael Alison (Selby)

I beg to move amendment No. 4, in page 20, line 4, at end insert 'provided that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week or, if the pregnancy is being terminated in accordance with section 1(1)(d) of this Act (termination because of the risk that the child will be handicapped), its twenty-eighth week'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

It will be convenient to take at the same time the following amendments: No. 30, in page 20, line 4, at end insert— '(4) In section 5(2) of that Act, for the words from "the miscarriage" to the end there is substituted "a woman's miscarriage (or, in the case of a woman carrying more than one foetus, her miscarriage of any foetus) is unlawfully done unless authorised by section 1 of this Act and, in the case of a woman carrying more than one foetus, anything done with intent to procure her miscarriage of any foetus is authorised by that section if—

  1. (a) the ground for termination of the pregnancy specified in subsection (1)(d) of that section applies in relation to any foetus and the thing is done for the purpose of procuring the miscarriage of that foetus, or
  2. (b) any of the other grounds for termination of the pregnancy specified in that section applies".'.

No. 29, in page 19, line 42, at end insert— '(2A) After section 1(3) of that Act there is inserted— (3A) The power under subsection (3) of this section to approve a place includes power, in relation to treatment consisting primarily in the use of such medicines as may be specified in the approval and carried out in such manner as may be so specified, to approve a class of places".'.

No. 28, in page 19, line 42, at end insert— '(2A) After section 2(1) of that Act (notification), there is inserted— (1A) Regulations made by virtue of paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section—

  1. (a) may require a certificate to include such further particulars relating to any opinion certified as the regulations may prescribe,
  2. (b) shall require any certified opinion falling within section 1(1)(d) of this Act to include an opinion as to the nature of the physical or mental abnormalities from which there is a substantial risk that the child would suffer if it were born, and
  3. (c) shall require the practitioners or practitioner concerned to send a copy of any such certified opinion as is referred to in paragraph (b), and of any 1179 such further particulars relating to that opinion, solely to the person to whom they are required by regulations to give notice of the termination,
and for the purposes of paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section such a copy is information furnished pursuant to the regulations.".'.

Mr. Alison

It will probably assist the House most if I begin with a factual background explanation of what the amendment would secure, and then argue its merits. In an important vote on 24 April of this year, when we last debated these matters on the Floor of the House, we determined by a substantial majority that the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, with its well known 28-week benchmark for foetal viability, should no longer be the overall ringmaster, so to speak, in the arena of abortion. It was the crack of that ringmaster's whip, to continue the analogy, which in practice determined the operational impact of the Abortion Act 1967, because the 1967 Act incorporated no specific time limits of its own.

But in disapplying the 1929 Act in its bearing on the 1967 Act, as we did in April, and in shaking off that yoke, the instinct and purpose of hon. Members and, I argue, of the Government was not to declare a time vacuum between a human conception and a human birth nine months later. It was rather to declare that the 1967 Act had come of age and could feature specific time limits in its own right and in accordance with more modern conditions.

Our purpose was manifestly not to sweep away all benchmarks but to choose between alternative benchmarks. If our original intent had been to sweep away all benchmarks, we need not have troubled ourselves with long lists of optional alternative time periods for foetal viability, ranging from 18 to 28 weeks. We could simply have had an amendment to repeal the 1929 Act.

There was no such catch-all amendment before hon. Members on 24 April last. But there was before us—properly, logically and responsibly—a proposed Government new clause in which every relevant major category of abortion had an up-to-date and specific time limit attached to it—24 weeks for the general risk of injury category, 24 weeks for the new grave permanent injury category and 28 weeks for the risk of foetal handicap category. Only the category of pregnancy where the continuance would involve risk to the life of the woman did the Government leave fully open-ended in their original new clause on 24 April.

I will not weary the House with a rehearsal of how, probably partly unintentionally, we ended up by declaring a time vacuum for important categories of abortion, enfranchising them, so to speak, across the whole nine-month gestation period up to birth.

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-West)

My right hon. Friend suggests that hon. Members voted unitentionally in that way. Surely we were just following the recommendations of the Brightman committee. Has my right hon. Friend read the conclusions of the House of Lords Select Committee, which recommended not only that the Infant Life (Preservation) Bill [Lords] should not proceed, but that there should be no upper limit in cases of foetal abnormality? The Bishop of Gloucester, a member of that Select Committee, voted for that recommendation.

Mr. Alison

I chose the word "unintentionally" deliberately, because a number of hon. Members who voted to eliminate the 28-week limit as applied to foetal abnormality were under the impression, falsely, that its elimination would not produce an open-ended and undated situation but would result in a fall-back fail-safe application of the 24-week limit, which the Government had written into other categories of abortion. I repeat, from the point of view of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act, that whatever others may be arguing or advocating, there was no substantive amendment before hon. Members on 24 April to repeal that Act.

Miss Widdecombe

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the representations that we have received from hon. Members who were confused on that occasion do not come exclusively from what might be termed the pro-life side but come from all sides of the argument, including hon. Members such as my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham), and that the confusion that reigned that night must be put right if we are to know the will of the House?

Mr. Alison

I agree with my hon. Friend. The fact remains that that open-ended enfranchisement of a whole range of categories of abortion for the total nine-month gestation period appears now on the face of the Bill.

As at present amended, the four grounds for abortion spelt out by the Government in the original version of clause 34, with time limits specified, now feature no fewer than three which discard all time limits and allow abortion up to birth. That is about as sweeping and fundamental a reversal of the existing law as one could imagine, for the existing law allows for the destruction of a viable foetus up to birth in only one case, and that is the single dreadful contingency that one life, either that of the mother or the infant, must be forfeit. That open-ended commitment in that unique case we have extended in the way I have described.

It is because I believe that the majority of hon. Members are not content with that sweeping liberalisation —with the new open-endedness—that my amendment has been tabled, precisely to re-establish some final points.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I have before me the diagram which was produced by the Leader of the House on the last occasion we discussed the issue and which, in my recollection, was used by the vast majority of hon. Members as a guide to their voting intention. It clearly sets out—in the case of the two categories where my hon. Friend's amendment challenges the no limit—that in respect of grave permanent injury to the health of the woman, two amendments were tabled, one of which would have brought in no limit and one of which would have brought in 28 weeks. Hon. Members cast a vote in favour of no limit, and I was on the losing side. It also makes clear, in the case of substantial risk of serious handicap, the choice between no limit, 28 weeks and 24 weeks. Again, hon. Members voted for no limit.

I understand my right hon. Friend's views and, as his amendment has been selected, he is reopening the question. But is he sure that he is doing the House a service by suggesting that, in the middle of the night on the last occasion, when hon. Members were armed with three documents—there were unofficial ones also—which were guides to what they were voting on, they did not actually know the way in which they were voting? That is not my recollection of the evening.

Mr. Alison

My right hon. and learned Friend must bear two points in mind, and I am grateful to him for throwing further light on this complex area. The first is that the Leader of the House's famous diagram darkened counsel for a large number of hon. Members. It was erroneous in substantial and important respects.

For example, paragraph 7 of the document said: The effect of the ILPA is to produce a 28-week limit where the abortion is to prevent grave permanent injury to the pregnant woman's health. The new clause replicates this, providing 28 weeks instead of 24 weeks. Where did the new clause replicate that? It did not do so on the face of the amendment as tabled by the Government. That statement was misleading and erroneous. There were others, in the junior Minister's speech, in which she misquoted letters applicable to amendments that appeared on the Order Paper, and in the guidance offered by the Leader of the House.

I must tell my right hon. and learned Friend that not only was counsel darkened by some of the advice received from the most responsible sources but when, against the wish and advice of the Secretary of State—in the case of the 28-week change—the House took a particular decision, it is not unlikely that the resulting liberalisation might have induced hon. Members to think that they should reconsider the whole gamut of amendments that ultimately resulted from the decisions that we took that night.

8 pm

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend. Does he agree that that evening of voting was the most confusing that most of us have experienced in our parliamentary careers; and will he further agree that it tended to bring Parliament into disrepute because hon. Members were going around with three sets of papers and were totally confused? My right hon. Friend is doing the House a great service by bringing the issue back this evening.

Mr. Alison

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I do not want to lose the sympathy and support—I am bound to desire and require it—of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State, but I trust that he will allow me my attempted defence of the inescapable human fallibilities of the highest civil service sections and sources in these difficult matters.

The effect of the amendment will be that the 24-week limit already provided for by my right hon. and learned Friend in clause 34(1)(a), in the single case of the general risk of injury category, will be extended to the grave permanent injury category of subsection (1)(b) and to the risk to life category of subsection (1)(c). Uniquely, the general 24-week limit will be raised to 28 weeks by our amendment in the case of the fourth and last category in the clause—that of possible foetal handicap.

The House will note that there is nothing innovative or radical about these new time limits. They do not tighten up on what the Government first brought forward; rather, they echo the original 24 April draft of the Government new clause, in which, as the House will recall, 24 weeks was proposed for the new grave permanent injury category and 28 weeks for potential foetal handicap.

Mr. Terence L. Higgins (Worthing)

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that his amendment will still leave open-ended an abortion in the case of risk to the mother's life?

Mr. Alison

I come immediately to that point. The only category that was originally open-ended in the Government's 24 April draft but to which we have attached, as to the others, the 24-week limit is that of balance of risk to the woman's life—subsection (1)(c). In the amendment, that is merely a precautionary, not an absolute, provision, because, as we know, any abortion performed in good faith for the sole purpose of saving the pregnant woman's life is not subject to any time limit under section 1(1) of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929. That Act will thus continue to operate as a fail-safe mechanism in any abortion over 24 weeks.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) may wonder why we bothered to include that limit, given that the Infant Life (Preservation) Act can override it. The reason is that there are doctors today who argue that an abortion at 12 weeks is so safe that it is actually a good deal safer than any pregnancy brought to term, so it could be argued that one was more likely to save the life of a woman if her pregnancy were never allowed to come to term and were always aborted as early as possible —that is the logical consequence of the argument: to end all human births. So we have introduced this precautionary, 24-week limit, safeguarded by the Infant Life (Preservation) Act.

We should not deceive ourselves or mince words. To abort means to do away with, deliberately, finally and irrevocably—the word can mean nothing else. That is different from a miscarriage of a very early foetus. In that case, what nature has given, nature has taken away. It is also different from an induced or premature termination or evacuation of a more developed or viable foetus. In that case, when nature has apparently fumbled, human hands can seek to rescue. Incidentally, a termination or evacuation after viability is an induced birth. It is only an abortion if the child is deliberately killed.

My amendment, reintroducing the 24 and 28-week limits, would not affect terminations on medical grounds —for example, under clause 34(1)(b) or (c)—provided that there was an intention to save the child if possible and not to destroy it.

The stark and dreadful import of abortion is that what nature has successfully—in spite of all hazards—launched into the orbit of life, human hands seek deliberately to arrest and destroy in mid-trajectory. To make such a terrible intervention in the course of nature demands compellingly good reasons. The further the foetus has got off the ground, so to speak, the more vital it is that human intervention should be geared to assisting and upholding, not to arresting and destroying.

This is why Parliament is surely right to seek, across every shade of opinion, to circumscribe abortion, carefully and agonisingly, and why it is right to insist on some time limit, as the new clause, if amended, would still do, if a growing foetus had to be interrupted and destroyed. Parliament would be wise to adopt this amendment, with its reintroduction of these vital limits. The amendment is designed to circumscribe the greatest of all risks in this area: human fallibility.

Sir David Steel

We are considering four amendments, and before I deal with the main one, I want to mention the other three in passing. I have no doubt that the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) will seek to speak to amendment No. 29, about which he has written to me, so I will say only that I support it and I look forward to hearing what he has to say about it and amendment No. 30.

Amendment No. 28 attempts to write into the main statute the conditions of certification that doctors may make when carrying out certain abortions. My view is that that is best left to the regulations, but perhaps the Minister will say something in answer to the anxieties of those who have tabled the amendment. I shall certainly not support it in the Lobby.

As for amendment No. 4, I was one of those who voted unsuccessfully and on the losing side in Committee on removing the 28-week upper limit and, in certain categories, allowing abortion up to birth. Were a similar amendment to be put before us again I would vote the same way, but the right hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Alison) should be aware that he is not only reintroducing the 28-week upper limit in this category; far more seriously, he is reintroducing to abortion law the concept of the use of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929. The 1967 Act contained no time limit. Instead we decided to incorporate a reference to the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929. I remind the House that that Act created a presumption of viability at 28 weeks but no reverse presumption of non-viability below 28 weeks. We incorporated that reference precisely because of the uncertainty at that time about precise viability.

We have seen the law in operation for 23 years, and, as everyone knows, private Members' Bills have attempted to bring in a more precise upper time limit for the carrying out of abortions. The Department of Health under successive Governments has by regulation and instruction introduced lower time limits. In Committee, we introduced a general limit on most abortions of specifically 24 weeks. That was a fundamental change to the 1967 Act and to the exceptional upper limit of 28 weeks. The House decided on a free vote that there would be no limit at all in certain categories. I know that the hon. Member for Newbury (Sir M. McNair-Wilson) attempted to suggest that there might have been some confusion. That suggestion received some support, but I have yet to meet a single Member who has said that he voted the wrong way and was confused.

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson (Newbury)


Sir David Steel

If the hon. Gentleman wishes to admit to confusion, may I take that as read and pass on?

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson


Sir David Steel

Even my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) writing in The Tablet of 15 May—this shows how carefully I pay attention to his words—said: It was suggested that at the end of the two-day marathon debate some MPs had become confused about precisely what they were voting for. Looking through the division lists I do not believe that by and large this is the case. There is a little twist in the tail, because my hon. Friend then says: Some may be confused in their beliefs, but there is a fairly consistent pattern in what MPs actually did". That is true. There may have been an odd case of confusion, but I think that the House was fairly clear, given all the guidance that was around. I wrote to everyone in my party regardless of how he voted, and not one of them voted in a way that he did not mean to.

Mr. Alton

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving publicity to The Tablet. I said that, by and large, there was no great confusion about the way that hon. Members voted. I am glad that the House has an opportunity to consider the matter again, because it raises substantive issues, not just on the matter of handicap but on the uncoupling of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 which my right hon. Friend linked to the Abortion Act 1967. He should now explain to the House why he thinks that it should not be linked.

Sir David Steel

I was in the middle of doing that, and I am sorry that I was deflected by the discussion on confusion. Even if there was minor confusion, it would not have affected the fact that the House, wrongly in my view, voted the way it did.

The amendment is an alteration to the clause which seeks to remove the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 from abortion law. The reason for that is that, if we state specific statutory time limits, as we have done in this legislation, it does not make sense to recreate uncertainty by applying a totally different law on infant life preservation and incorporating it in the Bill. We would be reintroducing the element of doubt which always lay in the Infant Life (Preservation) Act. Because the 1967 Act had no statutory limits, we rested our case on the 1929 Act. Experience since then suggested that it is better, and the House has expressed the wish to put specific time limits in abortion legislation.

8.15 pm

This matter was carefully trawled by the Select Committee in the other place. Reference has been made to that. The condition "capable of being born alive", which is in the Infant Life (Preservation) Act, is the very phrase which has given rise to so much uncertainty in the minds of the medical profession. The Select Committee in the other place unanimously recommended that there should be a decoupling and that we should state clear statutory limits.

There has been only one consistent effort to secure prosecutions under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act. There were four attempts, and they were all made by Professor Scarisbrick who is the chairman of the Life organisation. Hon. Members are used to being badgered by the so-called pro-life organisations. I am pro-life and I object to being characterised as not pro-life. Perhaps it is fair enough for hon. Members to be badgered, but I object to members of the medical profession being badgered and bullied in this way. I am glad to say that all four cases were rejected by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The amendment proposes to reinvite vexatious prosecutions in this area, and we would be wise to avoid it. In the context of the provision that applies to the handicapped, the House of Lords report says on page 18: If, for example, an unborn child were diagnosed as grossly abnormal and unable to lead any meaningful life, there is in the opinion of the Committee no logic in requiring the mother to carry her unborn child to full term merely because the diagnosis was too late to enable an operation for abortion to be carried out before the 28th completed week. That is a telling argument in favour of the decision made by the House.

While I did not support the decision to place no upper time limit on these categories, it is perfectly reasonable to support it as long as they are in extremis cases only. Earlier, we heard about a cut-off time limit in the abortion law of other countries. According to the Gunning study, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden have no upper limit in extremis cases of the kind that we are talking about. We are talking about a limited number of cases.

One other country which has no other upper time limit is Scotland. The right hon. Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine), who is the Father of the House, wisely declined to become entangled in the Scottish case. I assure him that that matter is highly relevant. The Infant Life (Preservation) Act never applied to Scotland, not even after 1967. That means that, within the kingdom, we have an example of a country whose abortion law has no upper time limit. That has certainly not been abused, because in 1988 there were seven abortions over 22 weeks and in 1989 there were five. We are talking about a small number of extremely tragic cases where desperate decisions have to be made by the medical profession.

In that connection I deplore the circular that was put round by the promoters of the amendment. It is by two gentlemen in University college, Oxford. Paragraph 3 says: If abortion on any of the four grounds results in the delivery of a living and viable foetus, it will be lawful to destroy it during birth for any reason at all, from harelip to hair colour. That is a gross calumny on the medical profession. I do not think that anyone practising medicine in Britain would destroy a baby during birth because the colour of the hair was wrong.

Mr. Alton

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Sir David Steel

I will not give way. I feel strongly about this matter. The paper is there and hon. Members can make their own speeches. I find such things totally discreditable.

I shall end by quoting from Mr. David Paintin, reader in obstetrics and gynaecology at St. Mary's hospital. He was one of the original medical advisers on my team in 1967. He now says about the proposal that is before us: There are few circumstances in which abortion is necessary after the 24th week; there were only 23 cases notified in this country in 1988. Most such abortions are performed because the foetus has been shown to have an abnormality that would prevent sustained life after birth or that would result in gross handicap. A small number of such abortions are induced because the woman is gravely ill and her health would be permanently harmed or she might die if the pregnancy continued. In these cases the foetus is so immature or so affected by the illness in the woman that it would not survive. If the foetus is mature enough to have a reasonable chance of survival with modern intensive care, all possible steps are taken to optimise the survival of both mother and foetus; delivery is normally by caesarian section. He concludes: A proper ethical attitude to abortion must take into account the potential humanity of the foetus"— that was the basic principle of the 1967 Act— but must also consider the humanity of the woman and the circumstances which, in her view and her doctors' view, make continuation of the pregnancy inadvisable. I believe that it is wrong to force the woman to continue the pregnancy to the serious detriment of her health or to force her to carry a foetus that is severely abnormal. The sensible decisions taken by Parliament in April clarify and improve the law. In my experience, women and doctors agree that abortion after the 24th week should be performed only in the most exceptional circumstances. I believe that the House should rest by the decision that we have taken.

Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury)

I rise to speak to amendments Nos. 29 and 30. Amendment No. 30 would clarify the law in relation to selective reduction. The present position, as I understand it, is that it is not clear beyond doubt whether that procedure comes within the terms of the Abortion Act 1967. Some people agree that if after selective reduction a pregnancy continues, that cannot be a termination of pregnancy within the meaning of the 1967 Act. The counter argument is that the procedure constitutes a miscarriage and that it must therefore be done under the protection of the Act. The medical literature abounds with legal cases and learned articles from lawyers trying to argue the problem through. It is clear that there is significant doubt and it is essential that that is removed.

The selective reduction procedure was neither in use nor even contemplated when the legislation introduced by the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) was passed in 1967. However, I understand that the procedure has been in use in Britain since 1982. It involves terminating one or more foetuses in a multiple pregnancy. That procedure may be used for a number of reasons. For example, some selective reductions are done because one or more of the foetuses has been diagnosed as having a seriously handicapping condition. In other cases it may be done because carrying a high order multiple pregnancy to term may jeopardise all the foetuses or the woman's life or health. Whether it is appropriate to carry out a selective reduction is, in the last analysis, a matter for the clinical judgment of the doctor and the wishes of the woman concerned. I understand that the number of cases is likely to be small.

My explanation has been brief. I hope that whatever moral or ethical stance we take on abortion, we can accept the importance of clarity and that the procedure should be brought within the ambit of the 1967 Act and the controls that it provides.

Mr. Frank Doran (Aberdeen, South)

I take the firm view that amendment No. 4, on which I want to concentrate, is thoroughly misconceived, certainly in the way in which it was presented by the right hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Alison). It is also deliberately disingenuous because it is nothing more than an attempt to reverse a decision of the House taken by an emphatic majority in a way which is a mystery to me as a relatively new hon. Member.

We have already heard several hon. Members complain about the large number of voters on that night who were apparently misled or who misled themselves. I have never heard of such a thing from hon. Members. One of the major problems that struck me when I first came to the House was the arrogance of hon. Members who felt that they could do no wrong and always thought that they knew what they were doing; that Parliament, in its great wisdom, is always supreme. Yet here we have a large number of hon. Members bowing before the House and admitting to the commission of a supreme error—that they voted the wrong way because they did not understand measures properly. I wonder what their constituents will think when they are faced with legislation and issues much more complex than this, on which the majority of hon. Members have strong views, as all the debates on the issue have shown. No hon. Member can make a greater sacrifice than to admit his fallibility, as so many have done. But they are not lowering the ego quotient in this place; it is simply a desperate attempt to reverse an emphatic decision of the House, and it should be seen in that light.

What saddens me about the efforts that have been made to reverse the votes on 24 April is the way in which many arguments have been perverted. Few of the arguments that we heard from the right hon. Member for Selby and those who support him have rested on fact. I have a copy of the paper that was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, which purports to be a legal opinion from John Finnis, professor of law and legal philosophy, university of Oxford, and Dr. John Keown lecturer in law and co-director of the centre for health care law at the university of Leicester. I am a solicitor and well used to reading legal opinions and I am appalled at the content of that paper, which I understand was circulated to all hon. Members. The right hon. Member for Tweedale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) has already taken issue with part of it.

It is important to look at the paper, to assess the arguments with which it presents us. For example, it is suggested in the first paragraph that an interpretation of the clause that was passed by the House on 24 April would allow abortion until birth in a wide range of cases, markedly altering the existing law, which allows the destruction of a viable foetus only to save the mother's life. Only the most asinine of lawyers would interpret in that way a clause that is specific about the legal requirements before it is permitted to operate.

For example, according to clause 34(1)(b), it must be shown that the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman". That is a severe legal test, as are the other tests. Clause 34(1)(c) says: that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated". That again is an extremely serious legal test, and if any doctor failed to satisfy it, he could be prosecuted. Finally, clause 34(1)(d) says: that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped. Doctors operating in that area know of the attempts to examine their work by the so-called pro-life or, as I prefer to call them, anti-abortion organisations. Their work has been handicapped. I do not want to attack the integrity of our medical profession, which is what the right hon. Member for Selby and his supporters have done. They do an excellent job in difficult circumstances. It is sometimes a difficult and tasteless job. But to make their job that much more difficult by suggesting that the medical profession would willy-nilly ignore those strict provisions in the Bill, which I hope will become an Act, is unacceptable and a smear on the medical profession.

For example, it is suggested in the paper that some doctors will interpret the onerous conditions that apply to them as including a hare lip or a cleft palate. That is pure scaremongering, which is appalling coming from a professor of law and a lecturer in law.

Mr. Alton

My right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) refused to give way on that point, and as it has been cited a second time, it is important to clarify it. Doctors at Guy's hospital recently advertised for mothers who would otherwise be having abortions on grounds of cleft palate to come forward in order to carry out operations in the womb. As much as we may be grateful for progress in medical science, does not the hon. Gentleman accept that if those are the sort of reasons being given by doctors for performing abortions, it is perfectly acceptable for Professor Finnis to quote them in his letter?

8.30 pm
Mr. Doran

It is perfectly acceptable for Professor Finnis to quote such examples in context. However, we have instead the bald statement that in the view of that learned professor, the justification for terminating pregnancies is being interpreted in the way that he suggests. That is unacceptable, and his paper bears little resemblance to what I suppose was meant to be an objective assessment of how the Bill will operate. The paper goes on: If abortion on any of the four grounds results in the delivery of a living and viable foetus, it would be lawful to destroy it during birth for any reason at all, from harelip to hair colour. That is an outrageous statement from practising lawyers, let alone a professor of law at one of our principal universities.

I am not sure what is intended by that alleged interpretation, but if an aborted foetus is found to be alive and is by medical opinion thought capable of sustained survival and is effectively viable, then I as a lawyer should have no hesitation is saying that the destruction of that foetus would be criminal.

Scaremongering of the type that I quoted, by two apparently respectable individuals, is outrageous and has produced a contrary response in me.

Ms. Harman

They ought to be reported to the Law Society or to the Bar Council.

Mr. Doran

My hon. Friend says that they should be reported, but it is unlikely that either of those two gentlemen has even practised real law. Certainly there is no suggestion of that in the opinion that I quoted.

As the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale pointed out, the medical profession has adapted to the 1967 Act as it has progressed, and the Scottish experience is worth bearing in mind and examining. Any lawyer offering an opinion should look at current practice, particularly when it is so close to home.

I circulated a paper written by one of my constituents, Professor Allan Templeton, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology in Aberdeen. I shall read out part of his paper because it is important to record the professional medical view on a provision similar to that passed on 24 April, which I hope will become law. It has operated in Scotland since 1967.

It is not a case of widespread abuse of the 1967 Act, of abortions being performed willy nilly, on request, and of reasons for them being invented afterwards. It is not a case either of abortions being performed for trivial reasons—and the suggestion that they have occurred because of the risk of cleft palates or hare lips is intended to trivialise the medical decision. Instead, it is a case of establishing a body of principle related to the obligations that a medical practitioner has to his patients and to the law of the land, which is currently the Abortion Act 1967. Professor Templeton says: It has been accepted in obstetric practice for some time that pregnancy should be terminated, regardless of the gestation, if the mother's life is at risk. Such a situation is not infrequent in obstetric practice, associated with such conditions as pre-eclampsia, abruption and placenta praevia. Similarly, it is accepted that the diagnosis of a lethal foetal abnormality is, if the mother so desires, an indication to terminate the pregnancy, regardless of the gestation. The classification of the procedure can vary. For example, we recently terminated a pregnancy"— at Aberdeen royal infirmary— of 27 weeks' gestation, at the mother's wish, because of the diagnosis of renal agenesis, a condition which results in absence of the kidneys and is incompatible with life … This is a clear example of current recognition that the age of viability is somewhat less than 28 weeks, and probably nearer to 24 weeks. The point here is that doctors have developed self-imposed guidelines that have emerged from their experience of current clinical practice. Thus, the perception has grown that it would be quite inappropriate for a variety of reasons to terminate pregnancies approaching the age of viability for reasons other than where the mother's life is at risk or there is a lethal"— and Professor Templeton emphasises lethal— foetal abnormality. This self-imposed, unwritten code of practice is evident on scrutiny of recent figures. Professor Templeton gives figures for the number of late terminations in 1987, 1988 and 1989. In 1987, there were in Scotland 11 terminations over 22 weeks; in 1988, seven terminations; and in 1989, five terminations. That is not a story of abuse of the law or of an apparent latitude that the measure passed on 24 April will allow elsewhere in Britain.

The law is being observed responsibly, and that will continue. I have no reason to believe that doctors in England and Wales are any less responsible than those in Scotland. For that reason, I hope that all right hon. and hon. Members will oppose amendment No. 4 and will base their decision on how to vote on the facts—and not in response to the scaremongering tactics that have been evident so far today.

Miss Widdecombe

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to this group of amendments and to my own amendment No. 28. The law currently states that a doctor should abort on the ground of disability only if the child runs a substantial risk of having a disability and if the disability itself is serious, yet there is no method of checking on the various disabilities that are the reasons why abortions are performed. When an abortion is undertaken the forms that are returned often show that it was performed not because of a disability but for a different reason. If we are to draw a distinction between handicapped and healthy children, the time has come for a ready check on the disabilities that are deemed to be so severe that the child is to be killed after viability and not be allowed to survive.

When the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton)—who on this occasion is my hon. Friend moved his original Bill, he clearly stated that there was evidence that doctors were aborting in the case of harelip, cleft palate or club foot. At that time, we were not debating abortions for disability up to birth but abortions within the limits of the 1929 Act. When the hon. Member for Mossley Hill made those statements, he was ridiculed. The same sort of reply was given then as we heard tonight—that such claims are a slur on the medical profession, which would never do such a thing. However, there is no means of extracting from the Secretary of State for Health whether such a practice would arise, because there is no obligation in an abortion to submit to the Secretary of State a clear definition of the disability involved.

In case anyone doubts that abortions have been carried out for the reasons cited by the hon. Member for Mossley Hill I will refer to a letter that I received from Anthony Rowsell, a consultant plastic surgeon at Guy's hospital, who is responsible for performing the pre-natal surgery, for which we are all very grateful, on unborn children with minor deformities. He wrote in defence of his work because he misunderstood my remarks in Committee, thinking that I was attacking pre-natal surgery. He informs me that mothers not only have abortions but that they are routinely offered. That should be a cause of worry because the legislation says that abortions should not be offered routinely in the case of minor defects but that there should be a substantial risk of serious disability.

If, as hon. Members on the other side of the argument frequently contend, the medical profession has nothing to hide, and the Act is working well, there could be no possible objection to asking the profession to tell us how often it routinely aborts for a minor defect. If we have a requirement that the nature of the disability should be specified on the form, we shall be able to see whether doctors are aborting for spina bifida, hydrocephalus and cystic fibrosis or for harelip and club foot. I cannot see any objection to giving that information.

If the House tonight confirms its decision—I sincerely hope and believe that it will not—that we are going to abort for disability until birth, even if the circumstances are rare, we have a sovereign duty, not merely a right, to check on the nature of the disability which is the reason for the abortion being carried out.

Ms. Harman

I intervene on the point that the hon. Lady made about Guy's hospital. I am not familiar with the letter that the plastic surgeon wrote to her, but I presume that he is not in the regional genetic investigation department, which is run from the hospital. Guy's serves many of my constituents, and I had my babies there. For my last pregnancy I had amniocentesis and I went through the entire counselling procedure. It was never suggested to me that the discovery of an abnormality such as harelip or club foot should be grounds for considering a termination. It was made clear to me, as a patient, that the object of counselling and investigation was to discover whether there was a serious abnormality. In the process they might discover minor abnormalities, but that would not mean counselling for an abortion. The hon. Lady should be careful before she continues in that vein.

Miss Widdecombe

I shall be careful, because I have ample evidence, including that letter from Guy's, which I have in my hand, that it is, or was, routine to offer abortion for minor defects. If we need any proof of that, think of the police investigation into the case of the King's college baby. I shall raise that case later when I discuss the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key). We know that in that case the disability was not serious, it was not life threatening, it would not cause the child to be crippled, to have restricted physical movement or restricted mental agility. Yet, an abortion—it was not an abortion, but a selective reduction, which is one of our dinky terms for fratricide—was carried out at twenty-seven and half weeks.

If the medical profession has nothing to hide, it cannot object to filling in the forms and doing it on time. Why does the Department tolerate a situation in which more than 300 of those forms were returned more than six months late in the past year?

Mr. Thurnham


Miss Widdecombe

I shall give way later.

I shall now turn to the important amendment, No. 4, tabled in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Selby (Mr. Alison). I regret the passing of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 from the Abortion Act. I should like to digress briefly before you call me to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on what I believe to be one of the most serious effects of removing that Act—now, for the first time since 1929, we have no long-term law in place.

One of the greatest achievements of the 1929 Act was that it was drawn up when medical science was nothing like it is now, and the Act stood the test of 60 years. The reason why it stood the test of time was that it was drawn up with a long-term view in mind. It did not give 28 weeks as a limit for abortion. It said that 28 weeks was a rebuttable presumption. The guiding principle of the 1929 Act was the capability of a child to be born alive. As viability came down gradually from 28 weeks to 24 weeks, children between the ages of 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy effectively enjoyed the protection of the 1929 Act.

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I mention that fact to the Secretary of State because it is important that the point is not overlooked during the debate. It is a pity that the amendment standing in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) was not selected, and it is important that his argument is not overlooked. If, in two years' time, the medical profession turns round and says, "We have improved incubation techniques to such an extent that we can now keep alive 40 per cent. of 22-week-olds and a few more 23-week-olds", what protection will there be in law for them''

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I am sure that the hon. Lady understands that no one has repealed the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929. The only effect of what the House has done is that the Act does not now apply to cases provided for by the Abortion Act. The effect of the amendment is to apply two pieces of legislation to the same operation, in some cases with very confusing results. The House voted before for the Abortion Act to have limits, or no limits, and for those cases to disapply the Infant Life (Preservation) Act. The Act still applies to non-Abortion Act cases.

If the hon. Lady's second question was "What will happen if medical science moves on," if the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists agrees that 24 weeks is too high a limit, the House could come back and review the Abortion Act limit which we have just set in the light of medical knowledge. That does not mean that we would start applying two Acts and reducing them both. The Infant Life (Preservation) Act has been set aside for Abortion Act cases, largely to ensure that there is clarity in the law, in line with the votes which the House cast last time on the Abortion Act limits.

Miss Widdecombe

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for confirming two things. First, no long-term protection exists under the law and we would have to come back to the House to decide again. I thought that the purpose of the grievous dissension and wrangling in the past few months was a clear long-term law, so that it would not be necessary to have such parliamentary upheaval at regular intervals. If we do that, surely it is essential to build in a legal protection so that we do not have to come back to say, "Look, the situation has changed."

As a result of the decoupling of the Acts, the House has inadvertently removed protection from viable children under the 24th week, removed long-term law and made it certain that, at some time, we shall have to return to the vexed business of time limits. I certainly do not think that that is desirable, and I have said so in public on numerous occasions.

All hon. Members should understand that that is the effect of removing the Infant Life (Preservation) Act. I appreciate that it has not been repealed, but decoupled, and I do not want to be critical of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State, because he and his Department have been most helpful in the past few months, assisting us with whether an issue was valid or technically cohesive. However, for the past year I have issued challenge after challenge about the observation of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act. For example, why was a lethal injection given if there was no possibility that a child could be born alive in the first place? I gave several other instances. The Secretary of State admitted that it did not work particularly well. Instead of tightening up and policing the Act properly, his answer to the failure of difficulties in observing the Infant Life (Preservation) Act was to remove the Act altogether.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I fail to follow my hon. Friend. Obviously neither of us wishes to interrupt—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Will the Secretary of State please desist from turning his back on the Chair? Will he please address the Chair?

Mr. Clarke

The pleasure of looking in your direction, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will enable me to turn towards the Chair.

Amendment No. 4 decouples the Infant Life (Preservation) Act in respect of abortions carried out under 24 weeks. However, my hon. Friend's point is irrelevant. The amendment maintains the position—which is not as troublesome as she claims—that as medical science moves on, the House will reduce the limit from 24 weeks. However, her amendment still decouples the Act. She is using the Act to introduce confusion into the law by making the Infant Life (Preservation) Act and the Abortion Act both apply above 24 weeks in certain cases and 28 weeks in others.

Miss Widdecombe

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend, although he did not offer any elucidation.

I said at the beginning of my speech that it was digressing a little to refer to babies under 24 weeks' gestation, but I want to get it clearly on record that there is no longer long-term protection for them.

Let me examine what we have agreed in regard to disability. I do not want to discuss again whether there was confusion. Although hon. Members may have understood clearly enough the instructions and description of any particular amendment, the interdependency and interrelationship between various amendments became more difficult to work out. When they decoupled the Infant Life (Preservation) Act, they thought that, under the guidance of the Secretary of State, they were simplifying a difficult legal situation and producing an administrative device to make things tidier rather than, as a result of the previous failure to write in limits, removing completely any protection for disabled children right up to birth.

When I introduced my Bill I was quite happy to exempt disability, as did the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) when he presented his Bill. But we did not mean that we would exempt disability up to birth; we meant that we would exempt it up to the limit of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act. The removal of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act effectively meant that there would be exemption up to birth.

I feel very strongly about the matter, as does my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham), and I shall take an intervention from him in a moment. However, it is a gross insult that disabled people could switch on their televisions and radio at any hour of the day or night during the past few months and hear politicians arguing about whether they have the right to be born. We would not offer that insult to any racial or religious group, so we should not offer it to disabled people. It is wrong.

When a disabled child is born, that child has the full protection of the law. It does not matter how gross the disability, how handicapped the child embarks on life or how grievous are the effects of that handicap on the mother and the family. At that point the child has the full protection of the law. However, a few hours or even a few minutes earlier, according to the letter of the law, the child does not have that protection. I have stood up in the House time and again and argued that the right that we extend to a child in an incubator should be extended to a child of identical age in the womb. I never thought that the day would come when I would have to stand here and argue in the House of Commons, the mother of Parliaments and the centre of civilisation, that it is wrong not to extend the same protection to a child a few hours before birth as applies to a child that has been born prematurely and already enjoys the full protection of the law. It is wrong, morally repugnant and an insult to the handicapped.

Mr. Thurnham

My hon. Friend has been issuing challenges and talking about duties. The effect of the amendments would be that more severely handicapped children would be born. My hon. Friend is in favour of more severely handicapped children being born. The other day I heard that she had said that if she had a handicapped relative she would give up her job to look after that person. What is she waiting for? There are thousands of severely handicapped children in institutions whose families cannot look after them. Why does she not adopt one? Is she afraid that a social services committee would not give approval for her to be a mother?

Miss Widdecombe

That last comment shows the degree of desperation prevailing on the other side of the argument. When hon. Members have to resort to personal abuse, it is quite clear that they have no argument. I must tell my normal hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North East that there is a queue of people waiting to adopt Down's syndrome children. Are we now saying that Down's syndrome is a cause for abortion up to birth although there is a queue to adopt those children? That queue consists of couples, not single people like myself who could not provide a father. I believe that the best start in life for handicapped children is to have two parents.

Mr. Alton

I support entirely what the hon. Lady is saying. I reiterate that if the state were not prepared to provide homes for disabled people and if there were no adoptive parents, many people in church and voluntary organisations, including the Bishops of England and Wales, have made it absolutely clear that they would provide homes for any disabled person.

Miss Widdecombe

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that comment.

Mrs. Ann Winterton (Congleton)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) was somewhat cheap to say the least? He has raised that point during every debate on the subject. I should like to put on record how much I admire and respect his wife who, for seven days a week, cares for their severely handicapped adopted child. However, it does the hon. Gentleman's reputation no good to raise the matter because we know that he is extremely active in the House, in his constituency and as an entrepreneurial business man. So he cannot undertake the very duties that he challenges other hon. Members to undertake.

Miss Widdecombe

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, but we should not argue about each other's personal capability or willingness to undertake those duties. That would not be profitable.

Many members of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and of LIFE and many others have adopted handicapped children but do not make a public parade of it. They also deserve respect. It is not confined to one side of the argument.

I deal now with the Finnis letter and the statement that it is possible to terminate for disability before birth. The 1929 Act was introduced—as can be checked in the Hansard of the time—precisely to fill the lacuna of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 which did not protect the child during the process of birth. That is on record and is a matter of legal history. I do not draw any pictures of doctors aborting during birth; I am saying that the 1929 Act filled that lacuna, but the removal of the Act reinstates it.

Those who share the views expressed by the hon. Member for Mossley Hill and I will vigorously oppose the amendments tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury. Amendment No. 30 proposes to bring selection reductions under the Abortion Act. I am not sure that the amendment is technically viable because it refers to a miscarriage. A miscarriage is not an abortion and it is not a selective reduction or a stillbirth. When a woman has a miscarriage she loses her child. In a selective reduction, the child is left in the womb until birth occurs naturally of its surviving siblings. In the King's college baby case, there was selective reduction at 27½ weeks for a mild form of handicap. One twin was allowed to live, but the other was killed in the womb by an injection of potassium chloride.

9 pm

I do not use, and have never used, the term "murder". I do not think that it is helpful to do so and it causes much guilt and grief for women who have had abortions. But when at 27½ weeks one twin is allowed to survive and the other is deliberately killed with a lethal injection, I cannot think of another term to use.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

When I was carrying our first child I did not understand why my husband suddenly lost two stone in a fortnight. He did not tell me for many years that he had been told by the doctor that I was expecting one baby with two heads. In this day and age, those delightful children, who have twins of their own, would have been aborted.

Miss Widdecombe

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend. We daily read stories of parents who have been given the wrong information—although perhaps not as horrendous as that—by the medical profession, whose children go on to lead normal, healthy and fulfilled lives. That is a genuine error of the medical profession; it never deliberately gives misinformation.

If selective reduction is to be governed by the Abortion Act, it will be made legal, even after viability has occurred. We now have no time limits, for example, for reductions for disability. Viable children in the womb could be killed quite legally. But that is not always done, even for serious or minor disability. When a woman discovers in the early stages that she is having a multiple birth—quite often these days, as a result of being overimplanted through IVF techniques; the doctor creates the situation which he solves by selective reduction—how does she choose? If there is nothing wrong with them but there are simply too many, how does she choose? On the grounds of sex, hair colour, colour of eyes? What is the deliberate killing of children in those circumstances called? If that is to be called abortion, when it is not—it certainly is not a miscarriage—we are going down a dangerous path.

Amendment No. 29 gives the Secretary of State powers to enlarge the classes of premises that will be licensed. I believe that that is merely a paving measure—even if it is not intended as such—for self-administered home abortion.

Mr. Key

It has been brought to my attention that what my hon. Friend has just said appears in the whip issued by the pro-life group. That is not the intention and, quite inadvertently I am sure, my hon. Friend has been very misleading. When I spoke, for all of three minutes so that we could hear arguments from all hon. Members, in the cause of brevity I did not refer to amendment No. 29. My hon. Friend has been speaking for 30 minutes, and with the leave of the House I shall later seek to explain her misleading argument.

Miss Widdecombe

I shall take my hon. Friend's hint and begin to curtail my remarks. I said not that he had deliberately set out to create that, but that it would be the effect. If the Secretary of State is finally able to allow self-administered abortion at home, through RU486 or whatever else is developed, there will be legalised back-street abortions with precious little counselling or control. That will be the ultimate effect.

We are told that Scotland has never experienced any problems, despite not having the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929. Scottish medical practice is governed by the General Medical Council and the ethics committee. Its ethics are based on English law. That point has been made by a number of Ministers in different circumstances. Now that the English law is being changed, there is no reason to suppose that there will not be very late abortions. If the amendment spoken to by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East is passed, more disabled children will be born. The amendments that have already been agreed to will lead to an increase in the number of abortions. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East admitted as much tonight, even though he may not have intended to do so.

The ILPA has resulted in the removal of legislation that has been on the statute book for many years. We shall be making a distinction, up to birth, between disabled and healthy children. If the other amendments are passed, they are likely to end up as home abortions and as selective reductions.

I apologise for addressing the House on the subject at such length, but it is important.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. There is little time in which to discuss these important issues. A number of hon. Members wish to take part. Therefore, brief speeches will be in order.

Ms. Richardson

I listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) had to say about disabled foetuses. She shows great concern for disabled people, so I was surprised when it was drawn to my attention that the hon. Lady voted against the last report of the Select Committee on Social Services on community care. All hon. Members want the interests of carers to be safeguarded. However, the hon. Lady was the only member of the Select Committee to vote against the report. That is extraordinary, especially when one remembers that she has expressed support for the handicapped and the need for the House to think about how Parliament and the Government can help the disabled.

The subject with which we are dealing amounts to a re-run of what happened on 24 April. That is extremely distressing. I have been a Member of Parliament for about 15 years. I cannot recall another occasion when cool, decisive decisions have been taken and then, six to eight weeks later, reversed because, it is said, many hon. Members did not know what they were doing. A few hon. Members may have been confused; it was, in many respects, a confusing evening. For about two and a half hours we were trooping through the Division Lobbies. However, I was extremely pleased and surprised to see that hon. Members seemed to know what they were doing. I did not find that hon. Members were saying to one another, "Gosh, I don't know what I'm voting about tonight. Should I be in this Lobby? Oh, no, I am in the wrong Lobby." That did not seem to be happening.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

The hon. Lady was not in the same Lobby that I was in. Her side of the argument suddenly withdrew the tellers in their Lobby, which admittedly threw our Lobby into confusion. There was a quick succession of votes and the fact that the hon. Lady's Lobby suddenly withdrew tellers on a Division on one amendment threw people into confusion.

Ms. Richardson

The hon. Lady is apparently saying that something that we did on our side of the argument threw her side into disarray.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

We had gone into the Lobby to vote for something and then suddenly, quite unaccountably, the hon. Lady's side of the argument withdrew their tellers.

Ms. Richardson

I am very sorry, but this is the House of Commons and I should have thought that hon. Members were used to reading the Order Paper to know what they were doing. The hon. Lady's comments are quite an admission. It is not our job to say, "Stop, are you sure you know what you're doing? Are you sure that you really want to withdraw this?" I am not suggesting that the hon. Lady is stupid, because I am sure that she is not. I am really sure about that.

I honestly believe that by and large, with possibly a few exceptions—one or two hon. Members have admitted that they were in the wrong Lobby on the wrong occasion—hon. Members knew what they were doing. The fact that the clause stand part debate was carried by such an overwhelming majority and that hon. Members stayed to the very end to register their votes must be significant. Nearly two months later, we are effectively having a re-run of that issue.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

And you have lost.

Ms. Richardson

The danger is that we shall undo what we did less than two months ago. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) can recall an occasion when the House has taken two different stances within such a short period. I certainly cannot recall such an occasion.

Mrs. Edwina Currie (Derbyshire, South)

Does the hon. Lady recognise that some of us knew what we were doing on that night? I abstained then, and I am grateful for the opportunity to think again about the issue. Although I disagree with a great deal of what I have heard tonight and I particularly deplore the personal insults which have been flying around on both sides of the House, I have concluded that amendment No. 4 should be supported.

Ms. Richardson

Well, okay, people are entitled to change their minds. The hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) is honest and gutsy enough to get up and say that she wants to change her mind. However, I do not believe that the House as a whole wants a re-run. If we were to take that practice to its logical conclusion, we would be re-running votes that we had taken during the week.

Mr. Cormack

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Ms. Richardson

I do not really want to give way, because I do not want to spend all the short time available to me on this constitutional issue. However, as the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South (Mr. Cormack) so ably chaired the Standing Committee on the Abortion Bill and was so kind to us, I will certainly give way to him.

Mr. Cormack

I am grateful to the hon. Lady. She was most gracious to give way.

We are dealing with this Report stage and during the passage of Bills hon. Members have the opportunity and the duty to keep thinking about the issues under discussion. I happen to believe that there was an element of confusion on that night of the long votes, and that we will prove it this evening. Hon. Members will vote and the Bill has not yet completed its passage through the House. What we are doing tonight is entirely constitutional and proper. At the end of this evening, we will know where we stand.

Ms. Richardson

I did not suggest that this was unconstitutional. I said that it was unusual and that I could not remember it happening before. We must remember that the Leader of the House specifically gave the House, as the Department gave the House, a clear opportunity to vote on this issue on 24 April after a full day's debate.

The majority of hon. Members who participated that day—and there were many—feel that, although it is perfectly true that we are today discussing the Bill on Report, we are entitled to re-discuss issues and I acknowledge that. The fact that we had a Committee of the whole House with not just one child's guide from the Leader of the House, but child's guides all over the place meant that the House knew what it was doing. Not only hon. Members who supported my argument but hon. Members who supported the other side of the argument have expressed surprise that the whole matter should be re-run.

9.15 pm

The effect of what was passed that night was the same as the provisions of Lord Houghton's Abortion (Amendments) Bill in the other place. A considerable amount of briefing material explaining its provisions had crossed hon. Members' desks well in advance of the debate on 24 April. Some hon. Members actually tabled that Bill as a new clause so hon. Members were not unfamiliar with the arguments and proposals. The Houghton Bill was supported unanimously by the House of Lords and was based on the report of a Select Committee that had sat for two years. The members of that Select Committee took the same position as the House has taken today.

There are two reasons why the House of Lords thought that a woman's health and foetal handicap should be exempt from time limits. It is difficult to distinguish between life and health. Doctors cannot be sure whether a pregnancy will kill a woman immediately, but it could shorten her life considerably, and that must be taken into account. Pregnancy could damage a woman severely. It could put her in a wheelchair or induce illness such as multiple sclerosis. Some handicaps are so severe that the foetus cannot survive. In a dramatic case, the brain or some other vital organ may be missing.

It is difficult to define the phrase capable of being born alive". There have, quite rightly, been many judgments and much case law and discussion on this. The recent judgment in the Rance case, for example, has extended case law in this area. It now appears that, if a foetus is capable of drawing a few breaths, the law can regard it as viable. We must tackle that decision, because a foetus with no brain may be capable of being born alive, but it cannot survive for more than a few hours. We must face these difficult problems, and the House did so on 24 April with enormous good sense.

There is no evidence that doctors have ever performed late abortions for trivial reasons—not even in the case of the Carlisle baby, which is often referred to in the House. On investigation, it was found that there was no case to answer. The upshot of the Carlisle case was that the woman concerned, having had to make a terribly difficult decision, had her case investigated by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the whole thing was splashed across the British press. That woman was put through enormous agony.

I do not understand why those hon. Members who are anti-abortion cannot accept a decision that was taken by this House in good faith and with substantial votes so recently. I think that I heard those hon. Members say before 24 April that if the House had an opportunity to vote on that matter, they would accept the results of that vote. I believe that the hon. Member for Maidstone said that. I hate to say that they suggested that they would go away, but they certainly suggested that they would not raise the matter in the regular way that they have been raising it for the past several years—as I know to my cost.

Miss Widdecombe

It is the same Bill.

Ms. Richardson

Here we are, not two months later, and those hon. Members are raising the whole thing again.

I was pleased this morning to receive a copy of a letter from Sir George Pinker, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which was addressed and faxed to the hon. Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham). It stated: I am writing… before tomorrow's debate to confirm that the College's view would be in support of Lord Brightman's committee's findings and we would support his letter of 19th June in the Times. I am sure that hon. Members who are interested enough to be in the Chamber now will have read the letter. Sir George Pinker continued: We would not like to see the Infant Life (Preservation) Act insinuated into the provisions of the Abortion Act. That is a clear and informed decision. The House has a duty to take note—as we usually do—of the views of the RCOG because it is composed of a large number of distinguished people.

I hope tonight that we shall decisively reject amendment No. 4, just as on 24 April we decisively decided to vote as we did. We shall support the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key). Although there is possibly a technical drafting problem with one of them, I am sure that it could be put right—

Mr. Key

indicated dissent.

Ms. Richardson

I am glad to note that the hon. Gentleman is shaking his head about there being a drafting problem

On balance, we feel that his amendments should be supported. I hope that my hon. Friends will join me in the Lobby to defeat this dangerous amendment, amendment No. 4.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I begin by confirming that all four of the amendments that have been selected are the subject of a free vote as far as the Government are concerned. No Whip is being applied to my right hon. and hon. Friends or—as far as I am aware—to any hon. Member. When we refer to Whips in this context, we are talking about briefs that people take from colleagues who are sympathetic to their point of view, which will help to guide them through the amendments.

As this is one of our last debates at this stage of our deliberations on the Bill, I am pleased to record the fact that the House has so far handled the Bill with considerable care. Although there are strong feelings among hon. Members, I am sure that we all regret that a slight note of abuse has begun to creep into the debate.

Although I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) on most of these issues —I have, however, voted with her three times this evening —I have the highest regard for the way in which she puts her case and for the strength of her convictions. Similarly, my right hon. Friend the Member for Selby (Mr. Alison) is a long-time colleague, for whose views I have the highest regard.

I wish to make a few brief factual points about the three less important amendments and shall then deal as briefly as I can with amendment No. 4. First, the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key), on selective reduction—amendment No. 30—is correctly drafted.

Mr. Frank Field

So we should be given its source.

Mr. Clarke

Some doubt has been raised about that. Secondly, the amendment would have the effect of clarifying the law as we believe it stands. The best advice that we can obtain is that selective reduction is subject to the Abortion Act 1967 but that there is considerable doubt about the matter. The effect of the amendment would be to clarify the position. The only effect of not accepting it would be to leave the law shrouded in doubt.

Mr. Alton

Will the Secretary of State explain then why the word "miscarriage" is used in the amendment when there is no miscarriage and the baby stays in the womb until it is born?

Mr. Clarke

We have taken advice from parliamentary counsel and others. The difficulty of deciding exactly what selective reduction is, when the foetus is killed inside the womb, makes the position different from that of ordinary abortion. Therefore, miscarriage is regarded as the legally correct description. I am advised that the amendment is correctly drafted to catch selective reduction. It makes it clear that selective reduction can be carried out only if the practitioner complies with the abortion legislation in whatever form it emerges from Parliament.

Amendment No. 29, also tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury, would give the Secretary of State the power to approve a place in relation to treatment consisting primarily in the use of such medicines as may be specified. The amendment anticipates the possibility that drugs such as RU486 will be licensed and approved for use in this country. As the House knows, in France about 30,000 women have chosen that method of lawful abortion. It does not involve surgery or general anaesthesia. If that drug is ever introduced here, it will extend the range of choice available to women and to doctors who prescribe treatment. As the law stands, if no power such as that contained in the amendment is provided, it will continue to be necessary for the patient to have the drug administered in a hospital or other approved place. There is no medical reason for that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone mistakenly suggested that the abortion pill will be given out and taken home. First, no such pill is yet licensed here. It will not be licensed unless the Committee on Safety of Medicines is satisfied when the application is made that it should be licensed. Such a pill would be administered only in closely regulated circumstances under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner.

A question was asked earlier about what type of premises would be used for administering such a drug. It is possible that the pill could be administered in a GP's surgery under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner. The patient would still have to return two days later to be given the pessary.

All that my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury seeks to ensure is that, if such a drug is licensed, the Secretary of State will at least have the power in primary legislation to approve the places and circumstances in which it might be used. If we do not address that matter this evening and if the drug is licensed in a year or two, there will be a private Member's Bill on every Friday for several years about whether the circumstances in which the drug is administered should be changed. It is for the House to decide.

Sir Bernard Braine

Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way?

Mr. Clarke

I apologise to the Father of the House, to whom I should normally give way out of respect. However, I am sure that the House does not want me to spend so long on these three amendments that I cut other hon. Members out on amendment No. 4.

There is hardly any difference between my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and me on amendment No. 28. It deals with whether it should be necessary to record the handicap in the case of abortions carried out on the ground of handicap of the child. There is some point to the amendment. It would finally answer one way or the other the continual claim that abortion is carried out for a hare lip or other such condition. I share the doubts of those who say that that does not take place. My hon. Friend is convinced that it takes place, but we do not know because no one is required to notify what the handicap is. The only argument for the House to consider is how to go about recording handicap.

If amendment No. 28 is accepted, it will be necessary on the green form, a certificate which must be filled in before the operation is carried out, to specify the handicap in every case from no weeks to 28 weeks, or however many weeks we allow. I give an undertaking to the House that if that amendment is defeated the Government intend to introduce regulations to make it necessary for the nature of the handicap to be specified on the notification for a late abortion after 24 weeks. I shall not argue the point because people can reflect on that and decide which method they prefer. I believe that it will be necessary to introduce a record of the nature of the handicap.

9.30 pm

Everyone who has spoken tonight will agree that amendment No. 4 is the one that matters most. We must first be clear about the factual effect of amendment No. 4. Unlike the other three, amendment No. 4 does not relate to a new issue. My right hon. Friend the Member for Selby and my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone are trying to reverse the effects of amendments (i) and (f) that were carried on 24 April. They openly acknowledge that that is their intention, together with the decoupling of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929, which resulted from the acceptance of amendment (q). My hon. Friends want to reverse the combination of those three amendments.

Let us be clear what the House did on that occasion, upon which we are now being asked to reflect. The amendments introduced, without time limit, the right to an abortion on the new ground of preventing grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman Recently some constituents told me that that means abortion on demand, without a time limit, up to birth. That is a travesty of the truth. The amendment deals with cases where the mother is having such difficulties, for example because of hypertension, that she is running the risk of severe permanent damage to her brain, heart, or kidneys. The doctor then feels the need to intervene to terminate the pregnancy, as he must intervene if the life of the mother is plainly threatened. The letter that was quoted in the debate has already revealed that the most reputable practitioners would attempt to do so in a way that saved the life of a viable foetus, if possible.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that in those particular circumstances, where the blood pressure of the mother threatens to damage her kidneys, the doctor could induce the birth without killing the baby?

Mr. Clarke

In effect, that is what the doctor will try to do and that will have the effect of terminating the pregnancy. The doctor will terminate the pregnancy while attempting to save the life of the baby if he can. I believe that there will be few cases in which that will happen, but we must consider them.

On the previous occasion when we considered the Bill the House allowed, without time limit, abortions on the existing ground of the substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped. The right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) has already said that that covers cases where the child may be capable of life and have the ability to breathe and move after birth, but have no brain. It would be incapable of sustained existence and in that case an abortion could be carried out without a time limit.

I understand how strongly and sincerely hon. Members are arguing that that decision should be reversed. Tonight, the House will vote on whether to reverse the decision to introduce no time limit on the two grounds that I have specified.

It appears that we are being asked to reconsider because people were confused on the previous occasion that we considered the Bill. I must address that point because the Leader of the House and I were responsible for the ordering of that debate and for the attempts to inform hon. Members about what was happening. I have obtained the two documents that we circulated. One was from the Leader of the House—a copious document—and, because people said that it was long and difficult, a short document was published by the Whip responsible for the Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight), which was distributed to hon. Members on both sides of the House who wanted to know for what they were voting.

As I said in an earlier intervention, the diagram was absolutely clear. It explained that in relation to grave permanent injury to the health of the woman, amendment (f) imposed no limit, (g) would be 28 weeks, and in the case of a substantial risk of serious handicap, the relevant amendment would introduce no limit, compared with the 28 weeks in the Bill.

The guide produced by the Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North—it was described as an idiot guide—described amendment (f) as Liberalising—provides no time limit in those cases where mother risks grave injury. That was carried by 337 votes to 146, with myself voting with the majority. Amendment (i) was described in that guide as Liberalising—provides no time limit for abortion if child is likely to be seriously handicapped. That was carried by 277 votes to 201. I voted on the losing side on that occasion, as did the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale, because I should have preferred 28 weeks for handicapped cases.

I checked the Division lists. My right hon. Friend the Member for Selby voted the wrong way on both occasions. Knowing his views and convictions and examining those Division lists, I am sure that he did not intend to vote the way that he did on those occasions. I cannot but help think that that is why my right hon. Friend has been asked to move the amendment, for he is the only one who appears to have voted the wrong way.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Sir M. McNair-Wilson) voted the wrong way once; he got one wrong and one right. All other hon. Members who voted on that occasion voted then as they are speaking now. They knew exactly what they were doing, and they went down—I went down with them—by 76 votes in one Division, they had a majority of almost 190 against them in the other.

An attempt is now being made to reverse the situation —giving the House a second opportunity, as has been said —but to avoid putting the same Question for the second time, those in favour of that course are using the mechanism of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929. They are bringing a confused method back into the Bill by reversing the former decision.

To reintroduce the Infant Life (Preservation) Act, as amendment No. 4 would do, would take us back to the strange feature of that Act, in that before 28 weeks it is necessary for the prosecution to prove that the child was capable of being born alive, and after 28 weeks there is a rebuttable presumption. That has always been confusing, as we all know. I do not claim that it is unintelligible to lawyers. It has not existed in Scotland, although I am sure that Scottish lawyers would have no more difficulty in understanding it than English lawyers.

If the amendment were made, taking the concept of grave permanent injury to the health of the mother back to 24 weeks—I did not vote for that on the previous occasion —the effect would be that between 24 and 28 weeks there would be an offence under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act if it were proved that the child was capable of being born alive; above 28 weeks there would be an offence under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act unless it was shown that the child was not capable of being born alive; and in the case of the child born with serious physical or mental abnormalities, there would be no offence if it was under 28 weeks—none of the long-term protection to which my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone was, I think, referring when she said that she was trying to defend that aspect—but above 28 weeks there would be an offence under the Infant Life (Preservation) Act unless it was shown that the child was not capable of being born alive.

I have selected from a large table circumstances describing the effects of amendment No. 4 on termination under different grounds after 24 weeks. I said on the previous occasion that the legal consequence of reversing the provision in the way suggested would be unbelievably confusing. As was made clear by my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone—the Whip for the evening, if I may use that expression—the effect for doctors would be so confusing that they would know that above 24 weeks they would be at risk from the law if they carried out an abortion in the case of proven brain damage to the woman and above 28 weeks they would be at risk from the law if the child was suffering from severe foetal handicap.

Mr. Alison

My right hon. and learned Friend is drawing our attention to this important document, which is meant to throw light on the path that we have been trying to tread in this complicated debate. The very last sentence of the last annex on the last page of the descriptive brochure issued by the Leader of the House —I refer to annex D—states: Where the Abortion Act set a limit of 24 weeks or less, ILPA would apply above that time limit and would put the burden of proof on the defence from 24 weeks onwards instead of from 28. Because my right hon. and learned Friend has himself introduced subsection (1) (a), which specifies 24 weeks as one of the limited options in respect of so-called social abortions, by that very definition the ILPA has become involved on his initiative, exactly as defined in the specification issued by the Leader of the House. So my right hon. and learned Friend cannot complain that by introducing the 24 weeks to the other three subsections we are creating confusion.

Mr. Clarke

The paragraph from which my right hon. Friend is reading is the last of a series dealing with the last two amendments. It raised the question of what would happen if the House voted to decouple the Infant Life (Preservation) Act, and whether it would then be sensible to go on to vote for another amendment to reduce the ILPA to 24 weeks for non-Abortion Act cases. The sentence to which my right hon. Friend referred makes it clear that that would be logical if it were wanted. By general agreement—I remember consulting my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone—we did not move that amendment because nobody particularly wanted to move it, so the sentence deals with a hypothesis in which no one was interested and which was never moved—and which has not been mentioned since. It does not undermine my basic point.

Furthermore, turning to the page on which my right hon. Friend claims there is a mistake, which deals with exceptions for emergency situations, we read:"no limit (amendment i)". Three sentences below the paragraph about which my right hon. Friend complained we read: Amendment (f), if carried, would provide that there should be no time limit to the exception on the grounds of grave permanent injury. If this amendment is carried, the House will have flatly contradicted the two amendments that it passed by large majorities on an earlier occasion. We shall then have to decide what happens next, but I still argue that the House must come to a resolution of all those matters and of the law. Personally, I should continue to go for 28 weeks in the case of handicap to the child. There has been no such operation recently, but we are debating no amendment that would allow us to return to 28 weeks, so, although I lost last time, I should have left the matter there.

I do not agree with a reduction to 24 weeks when there is a risk of grave permanent injury to the mother. If doctors are dealing with a mother who will suffer grave permanent injury if her pregnancy is continued, I cannot believe it moral to make it illegal to terminate her pregnancy while doing everything possible to save the life of the child.

The House was right before; I await the judgment of the House on a free vote later tonight.

Mr. Alton

Four amendments are before us, and before dealing with amendment No. 4, the most controversial, I should like to support the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe), who spoke to amendment No. 28, which would give the House the chance to make case-specific the recommendations made by a doctor carrying out an abortion, so that we can clearly know in future debates whether an abortion has been carried out for seemingly trivial reasons.

There have been disagreements about whether abortions have occurred for reasons such as club foot, cleft palate or harelip. I suppose that to some extent we all rely on our postbags and anecdotal evidence. In one case where the child is my godson, it was recommended that the mother should have an amniocentesis test for the following child because the first had been born with a cleft palate. When she asked why she should have the test, she was told that it would be irresponsible not to do so. The woman, who is a constituent of the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field), was then told that she would jeopardise the pregnancy if she did not proceed with the test. Of course the opposite is the case, because amniocentesis carries a 3 per cent. risk of a spontaneous abortion.

9.45 pm

The fact that a doctor would put pressure on a mother to have such a test is reprehensible. The fact that he tried to justify it by saying that an earlier child had been born with a cleft palate and that therefore the next child might have some disability shows the route down which we have gone. It is the eugenics route, a justification of abortion on the ground that in some way the baby may be born disabled.

Anyone listening to our debates and to debates outside would think that the vast majority of abortions were for disability reasons. That is not true, because 98 per cent. of all abortions are on perfectly healthy children and even 92 per cent. of late abortions are on perfectly healthy children and the disability issue does not arise.

Amendment No. 28 would at least require the nature of the disability to be specified, and it would end this argument once and for all because each year we could table parliamentary questions asking the Secretary of State about the returns for that year and we would know the precise reasons for abortions.

Amendment No. 29 was tabled by the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) and concerns the drug RU486. The Secretary of State for Health said that the amendment would pave the way for RU486 and would avoid the need for the House to return to the subject if it so wished. Anyone would think that RU486 was not available in Britain but that is not the case because trials have been undertaken and it is significant that the clinic chosen for the trials is in my constituency.

Clinical trials have shown that in most cases it is also necessary to administer prostaglandin. The pill has side effects such as incomplete abortion and severe bleeding in the mother. It has been suggested that the mother is more likely to suffer from post-abortion trauma after delivering a complete but dead baby. If the amendment is accepted, RU486 will become available.

It is worth bearing in mind that there has been some wide-scale experience in France. The French medical journal of 30 April says that Roussel, the company which manufactures RU486, has sent a circular to abortionists in France telling them of one heart attack and another cardiac anomaly that have occurred in a woman after she had undergone an RU486 abortion.

The company also reported knowledge of more than 3,000 further cases of less serious side effects and said that women must be assessed for risk of cardiac problems before taking the drug, that the procedures in use must be tightened, and that resuscitation equipment must be available and ready for use wherever the drug is administered. We all know that in private clinics such facilities are rarely available.

Let us be clear about the area that we are entering by paving the way in the manner that the Secretary of State has suggested. Amendment No. 30 also stands in the name of the hon. Member for Salisbury; it deals with selective reduction. We often use euphemisms in debates to disguise what we really mean. The Lancet recently published a letter which suggested that the term "selective reduction" might be politically unacceptable to the House and suggested that it would be better to use the phrase "pregnancy enhancement".

We should be clear what selective reduction means. It means that, where there is a multiple pregnancy with too many foetuses, or where one is thought to be handicapped, the surplus or handicapped babies can be removed. A doctor using ultrasound to guide the needle stabs the heart of one of the babies and injects potassium chloride. That is usually carried out at nine to 12 weeks gestation, but in some cases—the House has already had drawn to its attention tonight the case of the King's college baby—at 27½ weeks' gestation. Not years ago, but this year, a baby was aborted at 27½ weeks' gestation. That case is currently the subject of a police inquiry.

Mr. Key

It is precisely because of the unclearness of the law at present and precisely because there is enormous dispute in the medical and the legal professions that I am seeking, through the amendment, to clarify the law so that the medical and legal professions know exactly where they stand. We cannot go on ducking those responsibilities.

Mr. Alton

That is precisely the point that I am making. The hon. Gentleman wants us to make legal what I believe the House should outlaw because it is wrong. At 27½ weeks' gestation, the King's college baby was aborted because it was one of twins which would have been infertile for the rest of its life. In no way was that a life-threatening disability or a handicap.

Ms. Primarolo

That is not true.

Mr. Alton

It is true. I shall give the hon. Lady further details.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Such an abortion would have been illegal if it did not comply with the Abortion Act. What my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) is saying is that the abortion being graphically described by the hon. Gentleman must comply with the Abortion Act. I will not comment on the particular case, but anything of the kind that the hon. Gentleman is decribing would be unlawful.

Mr. Alton

The very reason that the Secretary of State describes is a disability. If that disability is given as the reason for an abortion, it will be perfectly legal to selectively reduce using the handicap provision right the way up to birth unless amendment No. 4 is carried this evening. Therefore, it is all the more imperative that we consider amendment No. 4 in the context of the new amendments that have been placed before the House for consideration only today.

It is vital that we reverse the bad decision that was taken. Whether that was the result of confusion or whether the House knew the reason for it is immaterial. The whole point of a Report stage is so that we can reconsider matters after we have pondered them. But in the context of the other amendment on selective reduction, it is even more important that we ensure that, right the way up to birth, there is protection for the child that might otherwise be removed.

In opposing amendment No. 4, various arguments have been placed before the House. One was that the letter from Professor Finnis and Dr. Keown was in some way misleading. My right hon. Friend referred to the first part of the letter, which says that abortions would be allowed until birth in a wide range of cases, markedly altering the existing law which allows the destruction of a viable foetus only to save the mother's life. Let us be clear that that is precisely what the House has authorised by uncoupling the Infant Life (Preservation) Act from the Abortion Act which my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) put in place in 1967. We ensure that a perfectly viable baby of, say, 23 weeks' gestation would have to be saved. Under the terms of what the House has agreed, that would no longer be the case.

The Scottish question has constantly been thrown in tonight as though that is a reason why, as the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Doran) and the right hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Alison) said, we in some way or other should not ensure that the law does the most to maximise the protections and safeguards for the unborn child. I took the trouble to speak to the Scottish Office during the passage of my Bill. The Infant Life (Preservation) Act did not apply in Scotland but other provisions did, and it is worth bearing those in mind.

The then Solicitor-General, responding to the Corrie Bill, as it was known, in 1979, explained the law as it applied in Scotland. He said in Committee on that Bill: In Scotland the medical operation by surgery is essentially an assault if it is not cured by proper medical care and proper medical motivations. The motive must be a proper medical motive in the proper circumstances. The law governs late abortions. So the law was different in those circumstances.

In this country, abortions are not regarded as an assault. Also, there are joint committees of the BMA, both Scottish and English, which together have drawn up guidelines that have been applied in England, Scotland and Wales throughout the years. The Secretary of State's own Department issued guidelines to every Scottish hospital saying that, for the purpose of common practice, the law as it applied in the rest of the United Kingdom would apply in Scotland as well. As far as common practice is concerned, the ILPA is effectively de facto applied in Scotland, even though de jure it is not.

No medical bodies have ever suggested that there was a need to extend the limits relating to handicaps. To permit handicap abortions up to birth would be unnecessary and barbaric, and an insult to handicapped people. If a normal baby counts as human and is protected in the last two months of pregnancy, why should not a handicapped baby be protected as well? Whatever our views on abortion, we must surely accept that a child is human at birth and must become human some time before birth. Clearly we would be saying that handicapped or disabled babies, simply because they were handicapped, were not human. Can we allow a situation in which some babies are cared for in incubators from 24 weeks or even 22 weeks, while others are deliberately killed as non-persons at any time up to birth?

Before the House reaches a decision on this life-and-death matter, I plead with right hon. and hon. Members to bear in mind what it is that we are being asked to authorise if we were to reject the excellent amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Selby. One of two methods would be used to abort such babies because they would be so well developed. From 18 weeks gestation, a baby is not a blob of jelly or a lump of tissue but a foot in length, pumping 50 pints of blood a day. Every single one of its organs is in place. Those are the facts of life and death. What we would then allow to happen would be downright barbaric.

A prostaglandin abortion, such as that which occurred at Carlisle general hospital on a baby of 21 weeks gestation, having a skin disease that was in no way life-threatening, involves the insertion of urea, a poison, which left that baby to struggle in that hospital for three solid hours before it was placed in a black sack and incinerated. That is the kind of thing that we allow even under the law as it is tonight in the case of a baby of 21 weeks gestation.

What is it that we allow in the case of dilation and evacuation, which is the other method used in late abortions? The baby's skull is crushed and its spine is broken. It is removed piece by piece. From seven weeks' gestation, no anaesthetic is used. An eminent immunologist, Dr. Peter McCulloch, has said that a baby of seven weeks will be writhing in agony and can feel pain. Let people be clear what it is that they are being asked to authorise.

The right hon. Member for Selby is trying to ensure at least what was the status quo. I plead with the House to vote for that amendment, because it will safeguard the handicapped baby from 28 weeks' gestation. I plead with it also not to allow selective reduction without at least giving it further consideration. I plead with the House to look again at the question whether we should require a handicap to be notified on a form in advance of an abortion being performed. That is a perfectly commonsense proposal and one that ought to unite everyone across the divide. With those words, I am happy to support the amendment of the right hon. Member for Selby.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

A number of hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson), have said that the amendment is unnecessary, and that we are covering the same ground within two months. There was a lot of confusion last time, and if the last vote is upheld, I shall regret it deeply, and believe that the House is profoundly mistaken, but at least it will have been proved that that was what the House wanted.

We are dealing with a Bill which has not accomplished its passage through Parliament. It is entirely proper and utterly right that the House should have the opportunity to speak and to vote again on this most profound and most important of issues. So let no one say that what we are doing is wrong. Let no one suggest that we are in any sense abusing the procedures of the House, because we are not.

The Report stage of a Bill is designed specifically for the purpose for which we are using it tonight. I urge hon. Members to bear that in mind as they go into the Lobby.

It being Ten o'clock, Mr. Speaker proceeded, pursuant to the Order [2 April] and the Resolution [20 June], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 215, Noes 229.

Division No. 254] [10 pm
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Alton, David Churchill, Mr
Amess, David Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Amos, Alan Conway, Derek
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F' rest)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Cormack, Patrick
Ashby, David Cummings, John
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Cunliffe, Lawrence
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Baldry, Tony Davis, David (Boothferry)
Batiste, Spencer Day, Stephen
Beggs, Roy Devlin, Tim
Beith, A. J. Dixon, Don
Bell, Stuart Douglas, Dick
Bellingham, Henry Dover, Den
Bendall, Vivian Dunn, Bob
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Durant, Tony
Benyon, W. Eggar, Tim
Blackburn, Dr John Q. Evennett, David
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Fallon, Michael
Bowis, John Favell, Tony
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Fearn, Ronald
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Brazier, Julian Fishburn, John Dudley
Bright, Graham Fookes, Dame Janet
Buckley, George J. Fox, Sir Marcus
Budgen, Nicholas Franks, Cecil
Burns, Simon Freeman, Roger
Burt, Alistair French, Douglas
Butterfill, John Gale, Roger
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Galloway, George
Canavan, Dennis Garel-Jones, Tristan
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Carrington, Matthew Goodhart, Sir Philip
Cash, William Gow, Ian
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Gregory, Conal Oppenheim, Phillip
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Paice, James
Grylls, Michael Paisley, Rev Ian
Hague, William Parry, Robert
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Hanley, Jeremy Patten, Rt Hon John
Hannam, John Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H' ll Gr') Pawsey, James
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hay hoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Pendry, Tom
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Porter, David (Waveney)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Powell, William (Corby)
Hill, James Price, Sir David
Hind, Kenneth Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Redwood, John
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B' wd) Reid, Dr John
Howell, Rt Hon David (G' dford) Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Roe, Mrs Marion
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Hume, John Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Rowlands, Ted
Hunter, Andrew Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Irvine, Michael Shaw, David (Dover)
Jack, Michael Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Janman, Tim Shelton, Sir William
Jessel, Toby Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Sillars, Jim
Kennedy, Charles Skeet, Sir Trevor
Kilfedder, James Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
King, Roger (B' ham N' thfield) Speed, Keith
Kirkhope, Timothy Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Knapman, Roger Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Stanbrook, Ivor
Lang, Ian Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Latham, Michael Stevens, Lewis
Leadbitter, Ted Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Stokes, Sir John
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Lightbown, David Sumberg, David
Lilley, Peter Summerson, Hugo
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Lord, Michael Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
McCrea, Rev William Temple-Morris, Peter
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Maclennan, Robert Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
McLoughlin, Patrick Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Thornton, Malcolm
McNamara, Kevin Tracey, Richard
Malins, Humfrey Trippier, David
Mallon, Seamus Trotter, Neville
Mans, Keith Twinn, Dr Ian
Marlow, Tony Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Walker, Bill (T' side North)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Wallace, James
Mates, Michael Waller, Gary
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Moate, Roger Watts, John
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Monro, Sir Hector Whitney, Ray
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Widdecombe, Ann
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W' shawe) Wilkinson, John
Moss, Malcolm Wilshire, David
Moynihan, Hon Colin Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Murphy, Paul Worthington, Tony
Neubert, Michael
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Tellers for the Ayes:
Norris, Steve Mrs. Ann Winterton and Mr. A. E. P. Duffy.
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
O'Brien, William
Abbott, Ms Diane Arbuthnot, James
Adley, Robert Archer, Rt Hon Peter
Alexander, Richard Armstrong, Hilary
Allason, Rupert Ashton, Joe
Allen, Graham Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Harman, Ms Harriet
Barron, Kevin Harris, David
Beckett, Margaret Haselhurst, Alan
Blair, Tony Haynes, Frank
Blunkett, David Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Boateng, Paul Henderson, Doug
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hinchliffe, David
Boswell, Tim Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall)
Bottomley, Peter Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr' th' m)
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Boyes, Roland Hood, Jimmy
Bradley, Keith Hordern, Sir Peter
Brown, Gordon (D' mline E) Howarth, Alan (Strat' d-on-A)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Howells, Geraint
Buchan, Norman Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Buck, Sir Antony Hoyle, Doug
Butler, Chris Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Caborn, Richard Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Callaghan, Jim Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Illsley, Eric
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Ingram, Adam
Carr, Michael Johnston, Sir Russell
Cartwright, John Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Chapman, Sydney Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Clay, Bob Key, Robert
Clelland David Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Kirkwood, Archy
Cohen, Harry Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Coleman, Donald Knowles, Michael
Colvin, Michael Knox, David
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Lambie, David
Cope, Rt Hon John Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Corbyn, Jeremy Lawrence, Ivan
Couchman, James Leighton, Ron
Cousins, Jim Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Cox, Tom Lewis, Terry
Cryer, Bob Litherland, Robert
Darling, Alistair Livingstone, Ken
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Livsey, Richard
Davies, Q. (Stamt'd & Spald' g) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Loyden, Eddie
Davis, Terry (B' ham Hodge H' l) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Dewar, Donald McAllion, John
Dobson, Frank MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Dorrell, Stephen McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Eastham, Ken MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf' d) McKelvey, William
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas McLeish, Henry
Farr, Sir John Madden, Max
Fatchett, Derek Mahon, Mrs Alice
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Maples, John
Fields, Terry (L' pool B G' n) Marek, Dr John
Fisher, Mark Marland, Paul
Flannery, Martin Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Flynn, Paul Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Maxton, John
Forman, Nigel Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Forth, Eric Meale, Alan
Foster, Derek Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Foulkes, George Miscampbell, Norman
Fraser, John Mitchell, Sir David
Fyfe, Maria Moonie, Dr Lewis
Gardiner, George Morgan, Rhodri
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
George, Bruce Morris, M (N' hampton S)
Gill, Christopher Morrison, Sir Charles
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Mowlam, Marjorie
Godman, Dr Norman A. Mullin, Chris
Golding, Mrs Llin Nellist, Dave
Goodlad, Alastair Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Gould, Bryan O'Neill, Martin
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Ground, Patrick Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Patchett, Terry Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Patnick, Irvine Steinberg, Gerry
Pike, Peter L. Strang, Gavin
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Straw, Jack
Primarolo, Dawn Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Quin, Ms Joyce Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S' ford)
Rathbone, Tim Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Rhodes James, Robert Thurnham, Peter
Richardson, Jo Townend, John (Bridlington)
Riddick, Graham Tredinnick, David
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Turner, Dennis
Rogers, Allan Walley, Joan
Rooker, Jeff Ward, John
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Ruddock, Joan Wareing, Robert N.
Ryder, Richard Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Sackville, Hon Tom Wells, Bowen
Sedgemore, Brian Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wheeler, Sir John
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Wiggin, Jerry
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wigley, Dafydd
Short, Clare Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Skinner, Dennis Williams, Alan W. (Carm' then)
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Winnick, David
Smith, C. (Isl' ton & F' bury) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Soames, Hon Nicholas Tellers for the Noes:
Soley, Clive Mrs. Teresa Gorman and Mr. Frank Doran.
Spearing, Nigel
Squire, Robin

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

A member of the Government has to move any further amendments. I have taken soundings. It would help the House, Mr. Speaker, if I moved formally all three of the remaining amendments, one by one.

MR. SPEAKER then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions on amendments, moved by a member of the Government, of which notice had been given, to that part of the Bill to be concluded at Ten o'clock.

Amendment proposed: No. 30, in page 20, line 4, at end insert— '(4) In section 5(2) of that Act, for the words from "the miscarriage" to the end there is substituted "a woman's miscarriage (or, in the case of a woman carrying more than one foetus, her miscarriage of any foetus) is unlawfully done unless authorised by section 1 of this Act and, in the case of a woman carrying more than one foetus, anything done with intent to procure her miscarriage of any foetus is authorised by that section if—

  1. (a) the ground for termination of the pregnancy specified in subsection (1)(d) of that section applies in relation to any foetus and the thing is done for the purpose of procuring the miscarriage of that foetus, or
  2. (b) any of the other grounds for termination of the pregnancy specified in that section applies".'.—[Mr. Kenneth Clarke.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:-

The House divided: Ayes 236, Noes 166.

Division No. 255] [10.15 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)
Adley, Robert Barron, Kevin
Alexander, Richard Beckett, Margaret
Allason, Rupert Boateng, Paul
Allen, Graham Boswell, Tim
Arbuthnot, James Bottomley, Peter
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Armstrong, Hilary Boyes, Roland
Ashton, Joe Bradley, Keith
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Brown, Gordon (D' mline E)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Hogg, N. (C' nauld & Kilsyth)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Hood, Jimmy
Buchan, Norman Hordern, Sir Peter
Butler, Chris Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Butterfill, John Howarth, Alan (Strat 'd-on-A)
Caborn, Richard Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Callaghan, Jim Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Howells, Geraint
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Carr, Michael Hoyle, Doug
Carrington, Matthew Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cartwright, John Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Chapman, Sydney Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Illsley, Eric
Clay, Bob Ingram, Adam
Clelland, David Jack, Michael
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Janner, Greville
Cohen, Harry Johnston, Sir Russell
Coleman, Donald Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Colvin, Michael Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Key, Robert
Cope, Rt Hon John King, Roger (B' ham N' thfield)
Corbyn, Jeremy Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Couchman, James Kirkwood, Archy
Cousins, Jim Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Cox, Tom Knowles, Michael
Cryer, Bob Lambie, David
Currie, Mrs Edwina Leadbitter, Ted
Darling, Alistair Leighton, Ron
Davies, Q. (Stamf' d & Spald'g) Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Lewis, Terry
Davis, Terry (B' ham Hodge H' l) Lightbown, David
Dewar, Donald Litherland, Robert
Dobson, Frank Livingstone, Ken
Dorrell, Stephen Livsey, Richard
Eastham, Ken Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf' d) Lord, Michael
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Loyden, Eddie
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Farr, Sir John McAllion, John
Fatchett, Derek Mac Kay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) McKelvey, William
Fields, Terry (L' pool B G'n) McLeish, Henry
Fisher, Mark Madden, Max
Flannery, Martin Mahon, Mrs Alice
Flynn, Paul Maples, John
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Marek, Dr John
Forman, Nigel Marland, Paul
Forth, Eric Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Foster, Derek Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Foulkes, George Mates, Michael
Franks, Cecil Maxton, John
Fraser, John Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Fyfe, Maria Meale, Alan
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
George, Bruce Miscampbell, Norman
Gill, Christopher Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Moonie, Dr Lewis
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Morgan, Rhodri
Godman, Dr Norman A. Morris, M (N' hampton S)
Golding, Mrs Llin Morrison, Sir Charles
Goodlad, Alastair Mowlam, Marjorie
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Mullin, Chris
Gould, Bryan Nellist, Dave
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) O'Neill, Martin
Hanley, Jeremy Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hargreaves, A. (B' ham H'll Gr') Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Harman, Ms Harriet Patchett, Terry
Haselhurst, Alan Patnick, Irvine
Haynes, Frank Pike, Peter L.
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Henderson, Doug Primarolo, Dawn
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Quin, Ms Joyce
Hinchliffe, David Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Rathbone, Tim
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Rhodes James, Robert Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Richardson, Jo Temple-Morris, Peter
Riddick, Graham Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Rogers, Allan Thurnham, Peter
Rooker, Jeff Townend, John (Bridlington)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Tredinnick, David
Ruddock, Joan Walley, Joan
Ryder, Richard Ward, John
Sackville, Hon Tom Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Sedgemore, Brian Wareing, Robert N.
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Sheerman, Barry Wells, Bowen
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Short, Clare Wheeler, Sir John
Skinner, Dennis Wiggin, Jerry
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Wigley, Dafydd
Smith, C. (Isl' ton & F' bury) Wilkinson, John
Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wilshire, David
Soley, Clive Winnick, David
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Worthington, Tony
Steinberg, Gerry Young, David (Bolton SE)
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Strang, Gavin
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Tellers for the Ayes:
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Mrs. Teresa Gorman and Mr. Frank Doran.
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Alton, David Fookes, Dame Janet
Amess, David Fox, Sir Marcus
Amos, Alan Freeman, Roger
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) French, Douglas
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Gale, Roger
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Gardiner, George
Beggs, Roy Garel-Jones, Tristan
Beith, A. J. Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bell, Stuart Gow, Ian
Bellingham, Henry Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bendall, Vivian Gregory, Conal
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Benyon, W. Ground, Patrick
Blackburn, Dr John G. Gryils, Michael
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Hague, William
Blunkett, David Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Harris, David
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Bowis, John Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Hill, James
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Hind, Kenneth
Brazier, Julian Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Bright, Graham Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Buckley, George J. Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Budgen, Nicholas Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Burns, Simon Hume, John
Burt, Alistair Hunter, Andrew
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Irvine, Michael
Canavan, Dennis Janman, Tim
Cash, William Jessel, Toby
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Churchill, Mr Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F' rest) Kennedy, Charles
Cormack, Patrick Kilfedder, James
Cummings, John Knapman, Roger
Cunliffe, Lawrence Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Lang, Ian
Davis, David (Boothferry) Latham, Michael
Day, Stephen Lawrence, Ivan
Dixon, Don Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Douglas, Dick Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Dover, Den Lilley, Peter
Dunn, Bob Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Durant, Tony Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Evennett, David McCrea, Rev William
Fearn, Ronald Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Maclennan, Robert Roe, Mrs Marion
McLoughlin, Patrick Ross, William (Londonderry E)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Rossi, Sir Hugh
McNamara, Kevin Rowlands, Ted
Malins, Humfrey Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Mallon, Seamus Shelton, Sir William
Mans, Keith Sillars, Jim
Marlow, Tony Skeet, Sir Trevor
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Speed, Keith
Moate, Roger Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Stanbrook, Ivor
Monro, Sir Hector Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Stevens, Lewis
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W' shawe) Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Moss, Malcolm Sumberg, David
Murphy, Paul Summerson, Hugo
Neubert, Michael Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S' ford)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Taylor, Teddy (S' end E)
Norris, Steve Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
O'Brien, William Thornton, Malcolm
Paice, James Tracey, Richard
Paisley, Rev Ian Trippier, David
Parry, Robert Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Patten, Rt Hon John Wallace, James
Pawsey, James Waller, Gary
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Watts, John
Pendry, Tom Whitney, Ray
Porter, David (Waveney) Widdecombe, Ann
Powell, William (Corby) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Price, Sir David
Redwood, John Tellers for the Noes:
Reid, Dr John Mrs. Ann Winterton and Mr. A. E. P. Duffy.
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Amendment proposed: No. 29, in page 19, line 42, at end insert— '(2A) After section 1(3) of that Act there is inserted— (3A) That power under subsection (3) of this section to approve a place includes power, in relation to treatment consisting primarily in the use of such medicines as may be specified in the approval and carried out in such manner as may be specified, to approve a class of places".'—[Mr. Kenneth Clarke.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 233, Noes 141.

Division No. 256] [10.28 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Butler, Chris
Adley, Robert Butterfill, John
Alexander, Richard Caborn, Richard
Allason, Rupert Callaghan, Jim
Allen, Graham Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Arbuthnot, James Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Carr, Michael
Armstrong, Hilary Carrington, Matthew
Ashton, Joe Cartwright, John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Chapman, Sydney
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Barron, Kevin Clay, Bob
Beckett, Margaret Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Cohen, Harry
Blunkett, David Coleman, Donald
Boateng, Paul Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Boswell, Tim Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Bottomley, Peter Cope, Rt Hon John
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Corbyn, Jeremy
Boyes, Roland Couchman, James
Bradley, Keith Cousins, Jim
Brown, Gordon (D' mline E) Cox, Tom
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Cryer, Bob
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Darling, Alistair
Buchan, Norman Davies, Q. (Stamf' d & Spald' g)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) McAllion, John
Dewar, Donald MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Dobson, Frank McKelvey, William
Dorrell, Stephen McLeish, Henry
Eastham, Ken Madden, Max
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf' d) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Maples, John
Farr, Sir John Marek, Dr John
Fatchett, Derek Marland, Paul
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Fisher, Mark Mates, Michael
Flannery, Martin Maxton, John
Flynn, Paul Meale, Alan
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Forman, Nigel Miscampbell, Norman
Forth, Eric Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Foster, Derek Moonie, Dr Lewis
Foulkes, George Morgan, Rhodri
Franks, Cecil Morris, M (N' hampton S)
Fraser, John Morrison, Sir Charles
Fyfe, Maria Mowlam, Marjorie
Gardiner, George Mullin, Chris
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Nellist, Dave
George, Bruce Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Gill, Christopher Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian O'Neill, Martin
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Godman, Dr Norman A. Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Golding, Mrs Llin Patchett, Terry
Goodlad, Alastair Patnick, Irvine
Gould, Bryan Pike, Peter L.
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Primarolo, Dawn
Hanley, Jeremy Quin, Ms Joyce
Hannam, John Rathbone, Tim
Harman, Ms Harriet Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Haselhurst, Alan Rhodes James, Robert
Haynes, Frank Richardson, Jo
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Riddick, Graham
Henderson, Doug Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Rogers, Allan
Hinchliffe, David Rooker, Jeff
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Ruddock, Joan
Hogg, N. (C' nauld & Kilsyth) Sackville, Hon Tom
Hood, Jimmy Sedgemore, Brian
Hordern, Sir Peter Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Howarth, Alan (Strat' d-on-A) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Sheerman, Barry
Howells, Geraint Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hoyle, Doug Short, Clare
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Skinner, Dennis
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Illsley, Eric Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Ingram, Adam Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Janner, Greville Soames, Hon Nicholas
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Soley, Clive
Johnston, Sir Russell Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Steinberg, Gerry
Key, Robert Strang, Gavin
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Straw, Jack
Kirkwood, Archy Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Knapman, Roger Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Knowles, Michael Temple-Morris, Peter
Lambie, David Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Leighton, Ron Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Thurnham, Peter
Lewis, Terry Townend, John (Bridlington)
Litherland, Robert Tredinnick, David
Livingstone, Ken Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Livsey, Richard Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Walley, Joan
Loyden, Eddie Ward, John
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Wilshire, David
Wareing, Robert N. Winnick, David
Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C) Wood, Timothy
Wells, Bowen Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E) Worthington, Tony
Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Wheeler, Sir John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wiggin, Jerry
Wigley, Dafydd Tellers for the Ayes:
Wilkinson, John Mrs. Teresa Gorman and Mr. Frank Doran.
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Hunter, Andrew
Alton, David Irvine, Michael
Amess, David Jack, Michael
Amos, Alan Janman, Tim
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Jessel, Toby
Ashby, David Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Beggs, Roy Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Beith, A. J. Kennedy, Charles
Bell, Stuart Kilfedder, James
Bellingham, Henry King, Roger (B' ham N' thfield)
Bendall, Vivian Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lang, Ian
Benyon, W. Latham, Michael
Blackburn, Dr John G. Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Bowis, John Lilley, Peter
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Brazier, Julian McCrea, Rev William
Bright, Graham Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Buckley, George J. Maclennan, Robert
Budgen, Nicholas McLoughlin, Patrick
Burns, Simon McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Burt, Alistair McNamara, Kevin
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Malins, Humfrey
Canavan, Dennis Mallon, Seamus
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Mans, Keith
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Marlow, Tony
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F' rest) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Cormack, Patrick Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Cunliffe, Lawrence Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Davis, David (Boothferry) Monro, Sir Hector
Day, Stephen Morris, Rt Hon A. (W' shawe)
Dixon, Don Moss, Malcolm
Douglas, Dick Moynihan, Hon Colin
Dover, Den Murphy, Paul
Dunn, Bob Neubert, Michael
Durant, Tony Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Evennett, David Norris, Steve
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Fearn, Ronald O'Brien, William
Fookes, Dame Janet Paisley, Rev Ian
Fox, Sir Marcus Parry, Robert
Freeman, Roger Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
French, Douglas Patten, Rt Hon John
Gale, Roger Pawsey, James
Garel-Jones, Tristan Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Gow, Ian Pendry, Tom
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Porter, David (Waveney)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Powell, William (Corby)
Ground, Patrick Price, Sir David
Grylls, Michael Redwood, John
Hague, William Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Roe, Mrs Marion
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Harris, David Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hay hoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Shelton, Sir William
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Sillars, Jim
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Skeet, Sir Trevor
Hill, James Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Hind, Kenneth Stanbrook, Ivor
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Sumberg, David
Hume, John Summerson, Hugo
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Whitney, Ray
Thornton, Malcolm Widdecombe, Ann
Tracey, Richard
Trippier, David Tellers for the Noes:
Trotter, Neville Mrs. Ann Winterton and Mr. Frank Field.
Wallace, James
Watts. John

Question accordingly agreed to.

'(2A) After section 2(1) of that Act (notification), there is inserted— (1A) Regulations made by virtue of paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section—

  1. (a) may require a certificate to include such further particulars relating to any opinion certified as the regulations may prescribe,
  2. (b) shall require any certified opinion falling within section 1(1)(d) of this Act to include an opinion as to the nature of the physical or mental abnormalities from which there is a substantial risk that the child would suffer if it were born, and
  3. (c) shall require the practitioners or practitioner concerned to send a copy of any such certified opinion as is referred to in paragraph (b), and of any such further particulars relating to that opinion, solely to the person to whom they are required by regulations to give notice of the termination,
and for the purposes of paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this section such a copy is information furnished pursuant to the regulations.".'.[Mr. Kenneth Clarke.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 197, Noes 197.

Division No. 257] [10.41 pm
Alexander, Richard Cormack, Patrick
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Cunliffe, Lawrence
Alton, David Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Amess, David Davis, David (Boothferry)
Amos, Alan Day, Stephen
Arbuthnot, James Devlin, Tim
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Dickens, Geoffrey
Ashby, David Dixon, Don
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Dorrell, Stephen
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Douglas, Dick
Batiste, Spencer Dover, Den
Beggs, Roy Dunn, Bob
Beith, A. J. Durant, Tony
Bell, Stuart Evennett, David
Bendall, Vivian Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Fallon, Michael
Benyon, W. Fearn, Ronald
Blackburn, Dr John G. Fishburn, John Dudley
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Flynn, Paul
Blunkett. David Fookes, Dame Janet
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fox, Sir Marcus
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Franks, Cecil
Bowis, John Freeman, Roger
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes French, Douglas
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Garel-Jones, Tristan
Brazier, Julian Gow, Ian
Bright, Graham Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Budgen, Nicholas Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Burt, Alistair Gregory, Conal
Butler, Chris Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Butterfill, John Ground, Patrick
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Grylls, Michael
Canavan, Dennis Hague, William
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Carrington, Matthew Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Cash, William Hanley, Jeremy
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hannam, John
Churchill, Mr Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Harris, David
Conway, Derek Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F' rest) Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Cope, Rt Hon John Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Hill, James Patten, Rt Hon John
Hind, Kenneth Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Pawsey, James
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Pendry, Tom
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hume, John Powell, William (Corby)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Price, Sir David
Hunter, Andrew Rathbone, Tim
Irvine, Michael Redwood, John
Janman, Tim Reid, Dr John
Jessel, Toby Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Roe, Mrs Marion
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rossi, Sir Hugh
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Rowlands, Ted
Kennedy, Charles Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Kilfedder, James Shaw, David (Dover)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Kirkwood, Archy Shelton, Sir William
Knapman, Roger Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Sillars, Jim
Lang, Ian Skeet, Sir Trevor
Latham, Michael Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lawrence, Ivan Soames, Hon Nicholas
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Stanbrook, Ivor
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Stevens, Lewis
Lilley, Peter Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Sumberg, David
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Summerson, Hugo
Lord, Michael Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McCrea, Rev William Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Taylor, Teddy (S' end E)
Maclennan, Robert Temple-Morris, Peter
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
McNamara, Kevin Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Malins, Humfrey Thornton, Malcolm
Mallon, Seamus Tracey, Richard
Mans, Keith Trotter, Neville
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Wallace, James
Moate, Roger Waller, Gary
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Monro, Sir Hector Watts, John
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Moss, Malcolm Whitney, Ray
Murphy, Paul Widdecombe, Ann
Neubert, Michael Wood, Timothy
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Norris, Steve Worthington, Tony
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
O'Brien, William Tellers for the Ayes:
Paisley, Rev Ian Mr. Frank Field and Mrs. Ann Winterton.
Parry, Robert
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Abbott, Ms Diane Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Adley, Robert Buchan, Norman
Allason, Rupert Caborn, Richard
Allen, Graham Callaghan, Jim
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Armstrong, Hilary Carr, Michael
Ashton, Joe Cartwright, John
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Chapman, Sydney
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Barron, Kevin Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Beckett, Margaret Clay, Bob
Boateng, Paul Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Boswell, Tim Cohen, Harry
Bottomley, Peter Coleman, Donald
Boyes, Roland Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Bradley, Keith Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Brown, Gordon (D' mline E) Corbyn, Jeremy
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Couchman, James
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Cousins, Jim
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Cox, Tom
Cryer, Bob McKelvey, William
Currie, Mrs Edwina McLeish, Henry
Darling, Alistair Madden, Max
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Maples, John
Davis, Terry (B' ham Hodge H'l) Marek, Dr John
Dewar, Donald Marland, Paul
Dobson, Frank Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Doran, Frank Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Eastham, Ken Mates, Michael
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Maxton, John
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Meale, Alan
Farr, Sir John Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Fatchett, Derek Miscampbell, Norman
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Fisher, Mark Morgan, Rhodri
Flannery, Martin Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morrison, Sir Charles
Forman, Nigel Mowlam, Marjorie
Forth, Eric Mullin, Chris
Foster, Derek Nellist, Dave
Foulkes, George Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Fraser, John O'Neill, Martin
Fyfe, Maria Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Gardiner, George Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Patchett, Terry
Gill, Christopher Patnick, Irvine
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Pike, Peter L.
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Primarolo, Dawn
Golding, Mrs Llin Quin, Ms Joyce
Goodlad, Alastair Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Rhodes James, Robert
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Richardson, Jo
Harman, Ms Harriet Riddick, Graham
Haselhurst, Alan Rogers, Allan
Haynes, Frank Rooker, Jeff
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Henderson, Doug Ruddock, Joan
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Sackville, Hon Tom
Hinchliffe, David Sedgemore, Brian
Hogg, N. (C' nauld & Kilsyth) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Hood, Jimmy Sheerman, Barry
Hordern, Sir Peter Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Short, Clare
Howarth, Alan (Strat' d-on-A) Skinner, Dennis
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Howells, Geraint Smith, C. (Isl' ton & F' bury)
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Hoyle, Doug Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Soley, Clive
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Squire, Robin
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Illsley, Eric Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Ingram, Adam Steinberg, Gerry
Jack, Michael Strang, Gavin
Janner, Greville Straw, Jack
Johnston, Sir Russell Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Key, Robert Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Thurnham, Peter
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Knowles, Michael Tredinnick, David
Lambie, David Walley, Joan
Leighton, Ron Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Lewis, Terry Wells, Bowen
Lightbown, David Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Litherland, Robert Wheeler, Sir John
Livingstone, Ken Wiggin, Jerry
Livsey, Richard Wigley, Dafydd
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Wilkinson, John
Loyden, Eddie Williams, Rt Hon Alan
McAllion, John Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Wilshire, David
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Winnick, David
Wolfson, Mark Tellers for the Noes:
Young, David (Bolton SE) Mrs. Teresa Gorman and Miss Kate Hoey.
Young, Sir George (Acton)

The numbers being equal

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

In accordance with precedent I cast my vote to leave the Bill as reported from the Committee, and accordingly my vote is with the Noes, so the Noes have it.

Question accordingly negatived.

Order for Third Reading read.

10.55 pm
Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The last vote symbolised the fact that we have talked ourselves to exhaustion with just five minutes left on the Bill. I should like to thank the officials, doctors and lawyers in my Department who helped me and a number of hon. Members during the passage of the Bill.

The Government introduced the Bill because of the need to have legislation on the important matter of embryo research. The House has always agreed that we need to have a Bill either banning research or regulating it. The House took advantage of the Bill to introduce law reform, and there was general agreement that we should take this opportunity to resolve the outstanding issues on abortion law to demonstrate to the public that we could come to a conclusion and settle the issue for some years.

It has been agreed throughout that once the House had made its clear decision in a free vote on all the ethical matters under consideration, it was our duty to present legislation to settle matters in the country so that the medical profession, the public and all those who hold strong views would know where they stood on these important matters. We have now resolved all the issues on embryology and abortion and I hope that we can end on a non-controversial note by giving a Third Reading to a Bill that is obviously needed to resolve this issue for some time.

10.57 pm
Ms. Richardson

I think that this is the first time that I have seen the Whips so mixed up. I suppose that was because we had a dead heat in the vote on the last amendment. There seemed to be some confusion, but there has been understandable confusion throughout the passage of the Bill.

I should like to add my thanks to those of the Secretary of State for Health for the help that his officials have given us in drafting. We are grateful for that. I should also thank the many people on both sides of the argument who have sent us many letters and much information. All our debates and consideration have made us better informed than we were when the Bill started on its way, and that is because of the attention that outside bodies have given to the House. They gave us the information that we needed to make up our minds.

Proceedings in Committee were meticulous, correct and enjoyable and I am grateful to the Minister for Health for her help. I do not think that I have ever had the last word in the House at the closing stage of a Bill. I hope that I shall have the opportnity on future Bills to have the last word again.

10.59 pm
Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland and Lonsdale)

I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson), but I too want to have perhaps the last word by expressing my warmest thanks to my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Government for the way in which they have responded to a point that I made on Second Reading.

Last night the House agreed to amendments to cover a situation which could arise under the Bill whereby the woman who bears a child will always be regarded as the mother except in cases, such as the one that I drew to the attention of the House, where, with the full agreement of the surrogate mother who has a total power of veto, the genetic parents of a child can go to the High Court and ask to be regarded as the true parents—

It being Eleven o'clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order [2 April] and the Resolution [20 June], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 303. Noes 65.

Division No. 258] [11pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Chapman, Sydney
Adley, Robert Churchill, Mr
Alexander, Richard Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Allason, Rupert Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Allen, Graham Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Clay, Bob
Arbuthnot, James Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cohen, Harry
Armstrong, Hilary Coleman, Donald
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Ashton, Joe Cope, Rt Hon John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Corbyn, Jeremy
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Couchman, James
Baldry, Tony Cousins, Jim
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cox, Tom
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Cryer, Bob
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Barron, Kevin Darling, Alistair
Batiste, Spencer Davies, Q. (Stamf' d & Spald' g)
Beckett, Margaret Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Bellingham, Henry Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Devlin, Tim
Blunkett, David Dobson, Frank
Boateng, Paul Doran, Frank
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Dorrell, Stephen
Boscawen, Hon Robert Durant, Tony
Boswell, Tim Eastham, Ken
Bottomley, Peter Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf' d)
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Boyes, Roland Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Bradley, Keith Fallon, Michael
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Farr, Sir John
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Fatchett, Derek
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Fishburn, John Dudley
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Fisher, Mark
Buchan, Norman Flannery, Martin
Butler, Chris Flynn, Paul
Butterfill, John Fookes, Dame Janet
Caborn, Richard Forman, Nigel
Callaghan, Jim Forth, Eric
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Foster, Derek
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Foulkes, George
Carr, Michael Fox, Sir Marcus
Carrington, Matthew Franks, Cecil
Cartwright, John Fraser, John
Freeman, Roger Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Fyfe, Maria Lord, Michael
Gale, Roger Loyden, Eddie
Gardiner, George Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Garel-Jones, Tristan McAllion, John
Garrett John (Norwich South) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
George, Bruce McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Gill, Christopher MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian McKelvey, William
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Madden, Max
Godman, Dr Norman A. Mahon, Mrs Alice
Golding, Mrs Llin Malins, Humfrey
Goodlad, Alastair Maples, John
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Marek, Dr John
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Marland, Paul
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Gregory, Conal Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Mates, Michael
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Ground, Patrick Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Grylls, Michael Meale, Alan
Hague, William Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Miscampbell, Norman
Hanley, Jeremy Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hannam, John Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Morgan, Rhodri
Harman, Ms Harriet Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Harris, David Morrison, Sir Charles
Haselhurst, Alan Mowlam, Marjorie
Haynes, Frank Mullin, Chris
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Nellist, Dave
Henderson, Doug Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Norris, Steve
Hill, James O'Neill, Martin
Hinchliffe, David Oppenheim, Phillip
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hogg, N. (C' nauld & Kilsyth) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Hordern, Sir Peter Patchett, Terry
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Patnick, Irvine
Howarth, Alan (Strat' d-on-A) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Pike, Peter L.
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B 'wd) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Primarolo, Dawn
Howell, Rt Hon David (G' dford) Quin, Ms Joyce
Howells, Geraint Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Rathbone, Tim
Hoyle, Doug Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Rhodes James, Robert
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Richardson, Jo
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Riddick, Graham
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Ingram, Adam Rogers, Allan
Irvine, Michael Rooker, Jeff
Jack, Michael Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Janner, Greville Ruddock, Joan
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Johnston, Sir Russell Ryder, Richard
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn) Sackville, Hon Tom
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Sedgemore, Brian
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Shaw, David (Dover)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Key, Robert Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
King, Roger (B' ham N' thfield) Sheerman, Barry
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Kirkwood, Archy Shelton, Sir William
Knapman, Roger Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Knowles, Michael Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Knox, David Short, Clare
Lambie, David Skinner, Dennis
Lang, Ian Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Leighton, Ron Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Lightbown, David Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lilley, Peter Soames, Hon Nicholas
Litherland, Robert Soley, Clive
Livingstone, Ken Spearing, Nigel
Livsey, Richard Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Squire, Robin Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Wareing, Robert N.
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Steinberg, Gerry Wells, Bowen
Stevens, Lewis Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Wheeler, Sir John
Strang, Gavin Wiggin, Jerry
Straw, Jack Wigley, Dafydd
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wilkinson, John
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Temple-Morris, Peter Wilshire, David
Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis Winnick, David
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Wolfson, Mark
Thurnham, Peter Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Townend, John (Bridlington) Worthington, Tony
Tracey, Richard Yeo, Tim
Tredinnick, David Young, David (Bolton SE)
Trippier, David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Trotter, Neville
Twinn, Dr Ian Tellers for the Ayes:
Walker, Bill (T'side North) Mr. Greg Knight and Mr. Timothy Wood.
Waller, Gary
Walley, Joan
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Alton, David Latham, Michael
Ashby, David Lawrence, Ivan
Beggs, Roy Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Beith, A. J. McCrea, Rev William
Bellingham, Henry McNamara, Kevin
Bendall, Vivian Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Benyon, W. Murphy, Paul
Blackburn, Dr John G. Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes O'Brien, William
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Paisley, Rev Ian
Brazier, Julian Parry, Robert
Budgen, Nicholas Pawsey, James
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Canavan, Dennis Pendry, Tom
Cormack, Patrick Powell, William (Corby)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Reid, Dr John
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Dixon, Don Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Dover, Den Rossi, Sir Hugh
Dunn, Bob Rowlands, Ted
Fearn, Ronald Sillars, Jim
Gow, Ian Stanbrook, Ivor
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Stewart, Allan (Eastwood.)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Thornton, Malcolm
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Watts, John
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Hume, John Widdecombe, Ann
Hunter, Andrew
Janman, Tim Tellers for the Noes:
Jessel, Toby Mrs. Ann Winterton and Mr. Frank Field.
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Kilfedder, James

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.