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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

No, I will not give way because I am in the middle of a sentence. Perhaps the hon. Lady might like to resume her seat—thank you. [Interruption.] I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I apologise; I should not be playing your role. I was in the middle of saying that although many Members are trying to intervene, I should like to make some progress, which would allow others to make their contributions.

I feel as though I am in the middle of a horrible Grimm—in more ways than one—fairy story. It is both untrue and unspeakably cruel to tell families who suffer from genetic disease and other problems that a vote against cloning is a vote against providing them with any hope for the future. Our hearts must go out to those who plead, "Do not deny us a chance to be cured." Those at the Department of Health know full well that that is not so. Professor Donaldson himself has made it clear, when he told us: it is the view of the Expert Group that the long-term promise of stem cells from adult tissue could equal or surpass that of embryonic stem cells. There is no evidence, other than wishful thinking, that research on human clones can kick-start that process.

Whence have we obtained evidence that stem cells hold such great promise? The evidence comes from successful experimentation in the use of adult stem cells, and from nothing else. We are confident only because of the successful work that has already been done with adult stem cells. Here I must add that, so far, we have no evidence—none whatever has been forthcoming—of whether embryo stem cells will achieve what is required and what has been predicted. We must therefore ask ourselves why we find the public and the press bombarded with cruel stories that those of us who oppose cloning are denying the sick their greatest hope for cures.