Government's Policy for Science

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 11:04 am on 14th June 1985.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down 11:04 am, 14th June 1985

It is not my intention to add to the Government's embarrassments by joining in the general demand for a more or less massive increase in expenditure. I want instead to warn the Government of an imminent embarrassment towards which they are drifting in an area related to the topic before the House and to indicate to them the way in which they could avoid it.

The key document in this matter is a letter which was issued from the office of the Leader of the House to the many members of the public who had written to him with the plea that the Government should find time for the completion of a Bill in the present Session on the subject on which the Warnock committee reported, namely the creation and use of human embryos for scientific experiment.

In the course of his letter to the Leader of the House wrote: the Government has not thought it appropriate to form a collective view on the merits of this legislation, believing that it raises issues best left to the individual consciences of Members of Parliament. That is an important declaration of Government intention. The issues which such legislation raises are those which are inseparable from the conclusions put forward by the Warnock committee. The Government have therefore committed themselves to ensuring that when in due course they come forward, as they must, with legislation, that part at any rate of the legislation will be "left to the individual consciences of Members of Parliament" and no collective view of the Government will be formed upon it.

The Government have said frequently in debates upon this subject that they are neutral. It is not possible to be neutral as between what was proposed in that legislation and the proposals of the Warnock committee. But two things have happened in these past months which are relevant to the Government's considerations. First, they have learnt upon what lines the House will support legislation if the issue is "left to the individual consciences of Members" Secondly, the recommendations of the Warnock committee have begun to come to pieces in the course of debate and of the examination to which they have been subjected, so that they can form no longer a satisfactory base on which any Government can frame legislation