Abortion

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd January 1974.

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Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

The committee's report has been received and it is hoped to publish it as soon as possible.

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire

When publishing the report does the Secretary of State intend to publish simultaneously the Government's views on what action should be taken on the report, or does he intend that there should be a time lag between the two?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

We are studying the report, but it was received by us literally only a few days ago and I cannot commit myself to an immediate response. As the House is aware, a Private Members' Bill will come forward next month.

Photo of Mr Robert Redmond Mr Robert Redmond , Bolton West

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the deep and sincere feeling about the present position on abortion held by a wide cross-section of the community? Is he aware of the demand for legislation and action rather than merely waiting for a report? Will he give us an assurance that the Government will do nothing to hinder the Private Member's Bill?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I must reserve my position on the Private Member's Bill until we have studied the report for which the House and the country have been waitng. It is true that there are strong and sincere opinions, but they are, unfortunately, conflicting opinions.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

If the Private Member's Bill measures up to the recommendations of the Lane Committee and fulfils those recommendations, will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that he will support it in the House?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

The hon. Gentleman puts his question very reasonably, but I must ask the House to await the publication of the report.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Does not the Question of the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) and his very proper interest in the Lane Report indicate that he recognises the dire consequences of his legislation?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I think that my hon. Friend will be eager to read the Lane Report with its thorough assessment of all the implications.