§ Baroness Gould of Potternewton
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they intend to publish the report following the review by Professor Sheila McLean of the consent provisions in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. [HL188]51WA
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman)
We are pleased to announce that the report of theReview of the common law provisions relating to the removal of human gametes (sperm or eggs) and of the consent provisions in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 has been published today. Copies have been placed in the Library. The review, announced in February 1997, was conducted by Sheila McLean, Professor of Law and Ethics in Medicine at the University of Glasgow, and followed the Court of Appeal judgment in the case of R v. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority ex parte Diane Blood.
In September 1997 Professor McLean conducted a public consultation on the issues raised in the course of her review. Over 600 copies of her discussion document were issued, with 116 responses being received.
We welcome Professor McLean's report, which, following a thorough and comprehensive review of the complex issues involved, has delivered sensible and well argued recommendations. These include:
in terms of the common law provisions relating to the removal of human gametes the report recommends that the current requirement for formal consent following adequate disclosure of information, should remain;
the courts should be asked to determine whether the removal of gametes is lawful where there is any doubt about such removal in cases where consent cannot be given in the usual way;
the requirement in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 for consent to certain treatment provided under the Act (such as in-vitro fertilisation and donor insemination) to be given in writing should remain, and be extended to all treatment provided under the Act; and
that the 1990 Act should be amended to remove from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority any discretion to permit the export of human gametes that have been removed unlawfully;
recommendations about the status of children born after the death of the gamete provider and the need for gamete providers to take account of succession rights of such children when storing gametes.
Following Mrs. Blood's case, there was considerable public and parliamentary interest in such issues and in particular as to whether the existing provisions in the common law and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 reflected clinical and lay opinion. We have decided, therefore, to seek public and professional views on the recommendations. These will be requested by the end of April, when we will consider the best way of taking the recommendations forward.
We are very grateful to Professor Sheila McLean for having produced such a carefully considered report.