HC Deb 19 May 2004 vol 421 cc1011-2W
Mr. Amess

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much money the Government intends to invest to promote gamete donation; [173379]

(2) what protocols are in place to ensure that no coercive practices are involved in the targeting of gamete donation. [173380]

Miss Melanie Johnson

We announced in January that we are to support the transition to identifiable gamete donors, subject to Parliament's approval of the regulations, by increasing public awareness of the importance of such donors. The investment that we are making in the promotion of gamete donation involves time and effort as well as the provision of funding.

We are working with a range of organisations including the Donor Conception Network, the National Gamete Donation Trust and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on collaborative arrangements to encourage the recruitment of identifiable donors. We will be supporting the National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT) to make contact with fertility clinics about current recruitment arrangements and the dissemination of good practice. The NGDT will also run an improved helpline for people interested in being gamete donors on 0845 226 9193. To date we have decided to provide the NGDT with some £100,000 for this work and are currently in discussion with them about further funding for 2004–05 and 2005–06.

Raising awareness of the value and importance of identifiable gamete donors will also take place in other ways. The HFEA will, for instance, include it as part of their inspections of clinics. We will also be promoting public awareness of gamete donation with other organisations and with the media in preparation for the introduction of identifiable donors from April 2005.

The donation of sperm, eggs or embryos is entirely voluntary. The code of practice issued by the HFEA makes clear that gamete donors must be paid no more than £15 for each donation plus reasonable expenses. It also makes clear that where a person is undergoing a treatment cycle, there must be no pressure or undue influence on a patient to donate supernumerary gametes or embryos.