HC Deb 24 May 1994 vol 244 cc166-7
2. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has had from the Research Defence Society about her policy in relation to research on the human foetus.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Tom Sackville)

I have received no such representations.

Mr. Dalyell

How come that in January, Ministers welcomed the public consultation that was initiated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority on donated ovarian tissue, yet come April, they agreed to an amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Dame J. Knight), apparently drafted in their Department, to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill, which completely pre-empted what they had said back in January? What happened to change their minds between January and April?

Mr. Sackville

May I make it absolutely clear to the House that the drafting help that was afforded to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Dame J. Knight) was simply to put her amendment in order? It was the subject of a free vote in the House of Commons and, in the event, it went through on the nod. Every single hon. Member was able to vote entirely according to his or her conscience.

Dame Jill Knight

Is my hon. Friend aware that I was in touch this morning with the Research Defence Society, with which I have some connections? The society assured me that it has absolutely nothing to say about the matter, and that the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) had been misinformed. The society exists to protect research against animal liberation groups and is absolutely nothing to do with the preservation of human fertilisation from the eggs of aborted foetuses.

Mr. Sackville

While I am aware of the continuing and consistent interest in research of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), I am also aware of the accuracy of what my hon. Friend has said.