HC Deb 29 June 1999 vol 334 cc147-8W
Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the letter from the Minister of State for Public Health of 4 January (POH/3/5437/69) what assessment he has made of the Icelandic experience in the commercialisation of the gene pool. [87513]

Ms Jowell

I believe that the question refers to the Icelandic initiative to set up a centralised health sector database.

This database consists of a collection of selected health data derived from medical records. The database does not contain samples of either human tissue or DNA.

The development of such a database raises important questions of privacy and consent which have been extensively discussed in Iceland, both by the public and during the passage of the relevant legislation. The licensing of the database has satisfied Icelandic law and they are satisfied that it does not break any relevant international conventions or agreements. I understand that considerable efforts have been made to inform the Icelandic public about the database and the right of an individual to refuse participation. I shall continue to receive information on this relatively new initiative as it develops.