HL Deb 19 January 1999 vol 596 cc97-8WA
Lord Alton of Liverpool

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the submissions to the Working Group on Human Cloning (Joint Sub-Committee of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Genetics Advisory Commission (HGAC)) will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses; why the working group comprised four scientists, but no philosophers, professional theologians, psychologists or sociologists; how a group composed in this way can deal adequately with such an issue; and how they intend to prevent "therapeutic" cloning from becoming a stepping stone to full pregnancy cloning. [HL429]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman)

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Genetics Advisory Commission (HGAC) gave careful consideration as to how best the responses to the consultation might be made accessible to the wider public. As a result, the report,Cloning issues in Reproduction, Science and Medicine, advises that the responses, unless confidential, can be viewed by prior arrangement at the offices of the HGAC.

The members of the joint working group were nominated by the HFEA and HGAC. The group was chaired by the Reverend Dr. John Polkinghorne (HGAC), one of this country's most respected and experienced ethicists. It also comprised Dr. George Poste (HGAC), Professor Christine Gosden (HFEA) and Dr. Anne McLaren (HFEA), a member of the European Commission's Group of Expert Advisers on Ethics. There was, in addition, a wide range of views available to the authority and commission, including those from religious groups and ethicists, as the result of a public consultation exercise undertaken in the course of the review. All members of the HFEA and HGAC, whose membership includes a wide range of experience and backgrounds, made full contributions to the report and approved the report in its final form for publication.

The report recognises that the safeguards in place are wholly adequate to prevent human reproductive cloning. It also proposes legislation explicitly to ban reproductive cloning and a further review of these issues in five years. These are points that we will be considering as part of our response to the report, which should be available shortly. The Government have, however, made their position clear; reproductive cloning cannot take place in the United Kingdom.

A formal government response to the report will be made shortly.