HL Deb 17 December 1998 vol 595 c174WA
Lord Alton of Liverpool

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will rule out the use of human embryos in all cloning procedures. [HL272]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville

The Minister for Public Health said (Official Report, 26 June 1997, col. 615) that:

"We regard the deliberate cloning of human individuals as ethically unacceptable … However, we need to consider carefully whether a total ban on cloning techniques could affect valuable research that does not involve cloning of individuals".

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 expressly prohibits nuclear replacement of a cell of an embryo. Other forms of cloning cannot take place because the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has decided that it will not license any treatment involving such techniques or any research to develop cloning for human reproductive purposes.

A joint Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Human Genetics Advisory Commission Report to Ministers on Cloning Issues in Reproduction, Science and Medicine was published on Tuesday 8 December. The report recommends that the safeguards in place are recognised as being wholly adequate to prevent human reproductive cloning, but suggested that the Government may wish to consider the possibility of legislation explicitly banning reproductive cloning regardless of the technique used, as a clear public statement on reproductive cloning in the UK. It also recommends that changes be considered to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which strictly regulates the use of human embryos in research, to provide two further purposes for which research may be undertaken. These would permit research into mitochondrial diseases as well as treatment for diseased or damaged tissues or organs. We will consider the report carefully before responding to it in the new year.