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Orders of the Day — Human Fertilisation and Embryology

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:10 pm on 19th December 2000.

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Photo of Robert Key Robert Key Conservative, Salisbury 5:10 pm, 19th December 2000

Perhaps we can debate that on another occasion.

There has also been a rewriting of history in relation to the issue. I admired very much the speech made last Friday by the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Ms Kelly). It is wrong to think that there was no discussion or debate on human cloning 10 years ago, in the run-up to the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. There was a great deal of debate, as was noted a few moments ago. It was precisely because of the debate at the time, especially in the scientific community, that the Government of the day thought it wise to bring in the 1990 Act in the first place.

Others have argued that we did not discuss the moral or ethical dimensions properly. We did, and at very great length. The hon. Member for Bolton, West said on 15 December: it is clear from reading these debates that no one envisaged that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 would also allow human cloning to take place—[Official Report, 15 December 2000; Vol. 359, c. 899.] In fact, we did discuss that, as it was perfectly clear that things were moving in the direction of cloning, even though the matter was not covered in the 1990 Act.

I served on the Standing Committee considering the 1990 Act as it passed through the House, and I can confirm that many of the moral and ethical dimensions were considered.