HC Deb 17 June 1996 vol 279 c313W
Mr. Harry Greenway

To ask the President of the Board of Trade when the Government will respond to the third report of the Science and Technology Committee of Session 1995–96 (HC 231) on "Human Genetics: the Government's response"; and if he will make a statement. [33350]

Mr. Ian Taylor

The Government have today published their response to the Select Committee's report, "Human Genetics: the Government Response". Copies of the response have been laid before Parliament.

Advances in human genetics have great potential for improved health care, quality of life and competitiveness. The UK currently leads Europe in the research, development and application of genetic science and the Government want that lead to be maintained. As recognised by the Science and Technology Select Committee, however, advances in human genetics raise a number of important social, ethical and economic issues. It will be important that public confidence advances at a pace which reflects that of scientific discovery.

In evidence to the Science and Technology Select Committee earlier this year, the Government undertook to look at whether there was a need for a new body to take a trans-departmental view of developments in human genetics and to foster public confidence. In the light of this, and after consultations with the Chief Scientific Advisor and the Chief Medical Officer, the Government have decided to establish a new Human Genetics Advisory Commission.

The new advisory commission will report to health and industry Ministers and will be supported by a joint secretariat from the Office of Science and Technology and the Department of Health. It will report periodically and will be open to the Government to seek its advice on particular issues. More details, including the terms of reference, are given in the Government's response.