HC Deb 15 January 1998 vol 304 cc266-7W
Mr. Baker

To ask the President of the Board of Trade, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms Walley) of 18 December 1997,Official Report, column 308, concerning public consultation on the proposed European Biotechnology Patent Directive, if she will ensure that representatives from (a) other political parties and (b) groups ethically opposed to biotechnology, will be invited to the events he plans to host. [22914]

Mr. Battle

The purpose of the discussion meeting I shall be hosting next month is to determine how best to develop a public consultation activity with a view to develop a consensus. The focus will therefore be on the process associated with this type of activity, rather than a discussion of the issues raised by biotechnology as this would pre-judge the public attitudes, which we are seeking to understand.

I shall be inviting people based upon their relevant experience and ability to contribute to the stated purpose of the meeting rather than on the basis of their views of the biological sciences.

The public activity to be held in the summer will of course have no value unless there is access to a wide range of informed opinion to draw on as providers of evidence to the exercise.