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Orders of the Day — Human Fertilisation and Embryology

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:33 pm on 19th December 2000.

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Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton Conservative, Congleton 5:33 pm, 19th December 2000

An editorial in The Daily Telegraph today puts in context precisely why so many people in the House and outside it believe that these important matters should have been introduced through primary legislation. If you will allow me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall quote briefly from the editorial: When, in 1990, the law was changed to permit embryo research, cloning was still science fiction; there was no debate about its ethics. It was never Parliament's intention to allow cloning, even if it had been conceivable. The new regulations are being presented as if they merely clarified the existing law, whereas in reality they mark a radical departure from it. This is a serious abuse of parliamentary procedure. I could not have put it better myself.

I have no doubt whatever that a vast majority of those who will vote in favour of the instrument will do so in the genuine belief that it holds the greatest promise for scientists to find cures for many genetic diseases and other disorders that beset our society. However, I passionately believe that they are wrong and that they are being misled. We must consider the evidence. The evidence available to the House suggests that it verges on the nonsensical for us to believe the many claims that embryos are the most likely source of stem cells for treatments for such diseases. Many scientific papers have been published showing that adult stem cells are already proving of great value in treatments for several disorders—for example, cancer, heart abnormalities and degenerative diseases, including Parkinson's.