HC Deb 11 June 1997 vol 295 cc478-9W
Mr. Healey

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to review the law on surrogacy; and if he will make a statement. [3622]

Ms Jowell

It is important that in an area as sensitive as surrogacy the law is kept under review in order to ensure that it continues to meet public concerns.

The legal position regarding surrogacy is clear:

  • surrogacy must not he commercialised; and
  • surrogacy arrangements are unenforceable.

However, since this issue was last examined, the number of difficult cases which have attracted public attention has increased, although because so many arrangements are entirely private it is always difficult to make any assessment of the numbers of cases.

In view of current concern, UK health ministers have invited a small team with the relevant expertise to take stock and reassess the adequacy of existing law in this difficult area.

The Terms of Reference for the review are as follows: to consider whether payments, including expenses, to surrogate mothers should continue to be allowed, and if so on what basis; to examine whether there is a case for the regulation of surrogacy arrangements through a recognised body or bodies; and if so to advise on the scope and operation of such arrangements; in the light of the above to advise whether changes are needed to the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 and/or section 30 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.

Margaret Brazier, Professor of Law at Manchester University, will lead the review. The other team members will be: Susan Golombok, who is Professor of Psychology at the City University, London; and Alastair Campbell, Professor of Ethnics in Medicine, University of Bristol.

We have specifically asked the review team to consider the issue within the context that surrogacy should not be commercialised and that any woman who has a baby as part of a surrogacy arrangement should not be compelled to give it up if she changes her mind. We also want to know whether there is, realistically, any practical way in which surrogacy arrangements could or should be regulated and if so how.