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Orders of the Day — Human Fertilisation and Embryology

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:46 pm on 19th December 2000.

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Photo of Mrs Anne Campbell Mrs Anne Campbell Labour, Cambridge 5:46 pm, 19th December 2000

I could not agree more. The words "moral hypocrisy" would describe such a situation very well. As with other research, such as that conducted on animals, many people do not want embryo research to be done in this country but are prepared to derive the benefits from research done abroad. That is hypocrisy.

People have asked me how we can trust scientists. That is difficult because there is a mistrust of scientists, possibly because of the disasters that we have all experienced, such as the BSE crisis. However, those who study such matters will know that the BSE crisis was due not to scientists but to people who did not listen to scientists and those who refused to fund scientists' important research into scrapie-like diseases. If we had continued that research we might have found a solution to the BSE problem much earlier.

A constituent rang me at lunchtime and asked me to make the point—because he did not think it had been made in the House—that adult stem cells could be used instead of embryonic stem cells. I told him that the issue had been fully debated in the House last Friday and on Friday 17 November. I also said that although adult stem cells offer great hope for the future, they do not offer a solution at present, and more research into embryonic stem cells is needed to understand the processes by which adult stem cells may be used. I still hold that view, and I told him that that was what I would say in the debate. I am pleased that I have had the opportunity to say it.

We should continue the research, and I implore hon. Members to vote for the regulations.