§ Mr. Dalyell
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what assessment Her Majesty's Government have made of the potential impact of the enactment of the 613W Unborn Children (Protection) Bill on research on the detection of genetic defects by examining nucleic acid samples from early embryonic tissue; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Brooke
The Unborn Children (Protection) Bill provides that the Secretary of State's authority for the possession and implantation of a human embryo shall be given only for the purpose of enabling a specified woman to bear a child, and not for any other purpose. It follows that research on the detection of genetic defects by examining nucleic acid samples from early human embryonic tissue would not be possible. I understand from the Medical Research Council that this would prevent further research and development work taking place on the technique known as embryonic biopsy, which might prove especially valuable in diagnosing serious genetic disorder in embryos fertilised in vitro, before possible implantation in the uterus, in the case of couples who are known carriers of a wide range of genetic diseases such as the thalassaemias, haemophilia, sickle-cell disease and Huntington's Chorea.