§ Lord Alton of Liverpool
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What discussions they have had with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority about the Babies by Post procedures promoted by Mr. W. Handel of the Center for Surrogate Parenting and Egg Donation of California; what charge is made for each fertilised embryo; how many export and import directions have been issued since 1991; what licences have been issued to Mr. Handel's Center; and what public consultation took place before international trafficking in human embryos. [HL1991]
§ Baroness Jay of Paddington
Discussions have been held at official level about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's policies in respect of the issues raised by Mr. Handel's clinic.
We do not know what charges Mr. Handel's clinic makes for each fertilised embryo.
The import of human gametes (sperm and eggs), and the import and export of embryos, all require individual special directions from the HFEA. Since 1 August 1991, 10 such directions have been issued for the import of gametes; 15 for the import of embryos; and 29 for the export of embryos.
The export of gametes is subject to a general direction made by the HFEA. Subject to the conditions in that direction being met, licensed clinics may export gametes without specific application to the HFEA.
No licences have been issued to Mr. Handel's centre. HFEA licences can only be granted to clinics in the United Kingdom and import and export directions can only be granted to HFEA licensed clinics. Within the last month, one export direction has been granted to a licensed clinic to export embryos to the Center for Surrogate Parenting and Egg Donation Inc. of Beverley Hills, California. These embryos were for a named patient's own use.
The use of gametes and embryos raises special ethical and legal issues. These were considered in detail by Parliament during the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which provides, among other things, for the import and export of human gametes and embryos. The Act came into force only after much discussion and a free vote in both Houses, and following considerable public consultation.