HC Deb 28 June 2004 vol 423 cc32-3

'In this Part, "excepted material" means material which has—

  1. (a)come from the body of a living person, or
  2. (b)come from the body of a deceased person otherwise than in the course of use of the body for the purpose of anatomical examination.'.—[Ms Rosie Winterton.]
Brought up, and read the First time.

Ms Rosie Winterton

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 48 to 64.

Ms Winterton

In Committee, hon. Members raised a technical point about the scope for misunderstanding in the current definition of anatomical examination given in clause 55, which states: 'anatomical examination' means examination by dissection for anatomical purposes", which are for the purposes of teaching or studying, or researching into, morphology. Use and storage of the body of a deceased person or material from it for that purpose requires the advance written consent of the individual concerned, witnessed by another, and is a licensable activity. The scheduled purpose of health-related research, on the other hand, may be consented to after death by relatives and is not licensable under the Bill.

Researchers in particular are concerned that there could be confusion about when research on tissue involving examination by dissection requires advanced consent and licensing and when it does not. Basically, there was concern that the stricter requirements would apply to all bits of tissue used for morphological research.

We therefore propose to clarify the references to anatomical examination by amending clauses 2, 3, 7, 13, 23, 43 and 55. The effect of the amendments to clause 55 is to clarify the definition of anatomical examination so that it is now defined as macroscopic examination by dissection for the purposes of teaching, studying or researching into the gross structure of the human body. That excludes from the definition much of the research about which concerns have been expressed to us.

The effect of the amendments to clauses 2 and 3 is that the prior written and witnessed consent of the individual is required only in relation to anatomical examinations carried out on whole bodies or material that has come from a whole body in the course of use of the body for the purpose of anatomical examination. The amendments to clauses in part 2 impose a licensing requirement only in relation to whole bodies that are used or stored for anatomical examination or material from such bodies that is stored or used for that purpose.

I hope that that is clear. As I said, these are technical amendments dealing with matters that were raised in Committee. I hope that the situation is now clarified.

Dr. Murrison

I congratulate the Minister on her eloquent exposition. It is a pity that the description that she gave could not have been given previously. I underscore the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) about pre-legislative scrutiny. Although the change is technical, it is also fundamental. The Minister's description is a return to common sense, because she elegantly described the situation, as we understand it, in a dissecting suite in a medical school, which is the measure's intention. Correctly, she has in mind a gross, large-scale examination of parts derived from a dead person that excludes histology—examining specimens under a microscope. I congratulate her on the change, although it is a pity that it was not made earlier.

Question put and agreed to. Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

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