Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Human Fertilisation and Embryology

Part of Living Wage (Reporting) – in the House of Commons at 2:49 pm on 3rd February 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras 2:49 pm, 3rd February 2015

I have a sense of déjà vu, or perhaps déjà entendu. The objections that have been brought out today, and in previous discussions, about mitochondrial disease are identical to those that arose when Louise Brown was brought into this world at Oldham general hospital as a result of the risky work undertaken by Steptoe and Edwards and Jean Purdy. That was a risk that the scientists were willing to take and that Mr and Mrs Brown were willing to take.

Not long after I became a Member, Enoch Powell proposed a total ban on embryo research. I understand people’s ethical objections to embryo research, but if they object to something on principle, they do not need to add any other references to safety or effectiveness. If someone is opposed to it on principle, they are opposed to it, and I can respect that. When the Warnock report was published, this House had a creditable debate—to those who say that the House of Lords has a better quality of debate, I say that they should read its first debate on the Warnock report, and they might modify their views. All the things that are being said today were being said then, and all the things that were said in the debates about the establishment and development of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority were the same.

In a previous speech, there were two novelties. One was that Robert Winston was being misquoted as opposing the proposal, which he cannot do any more as he actually wrote a full article in favour of it yesterday. The second was that US experts, some of the most distinguished experts who have written papers on the matter, were against it.