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Orders of the Day — Human Fertilisation and Embryology

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:58 pm on 19th December 2000.

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Photo of Howard Stoate Howard Stoate Labour, Dartford 4:58 pm, 19th December 2000

Exactly. My hon. Friend is a scientist and has made an excellent point. There are unusual mitochondrial diseases of which we understand very little. This technique seems to be the only logical way forward if we are to make breakthroughs. For the reasons I have given, the many people suffering from chronic diseases with limited hope, will potentially benefit from this.

The human body has an enormous capacity to regenerate and to replenish damaged cells. With degenerative disease, however, the disease process overwhelms the body's capacity to regenerate and to replace cells, leading to destruction. Therefore, the only hope for patients affected by such disease is a method of replacing those damaged cells. That is why we have to take this very difficult decision in a positive way, to ensure that research is made possible. Such research would benefit not necessarily the current generation of sufferers but the future generation of sufferers.

For those reasons, I shall support the change. Although I have looked extremely hard at the issues and taken full account of the moral and ethical dimensions of the issue that have been expressed by hon. Members and members of the public, I as a scientist and a doctor believe that the potential benefit to humanity of such research far outweighs the many difficulties facing us in ensuring that the moral argument is not forgotten.