Amendment 13

Medicines and Medical Devices Bill - Report (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 12 January 2021.

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath:

Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

13: Clause 2, page 2, line 32, at end insert “, or(o) the use of tissues or cells (within the meanings given by regulation 5(1) of the Human Tissue (Quality and Safety for Human Application) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 2007/1523)) in relation to human medicines.”Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment would enable regulations under Clause 1(1) to make provision about the use of human tissues or cells in relation to human medicines.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour

My Lords, I am delighted to move my amendment, which follows constructive and very helpful discussions with the Government. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Bethell and Lord Ahmad, the noble Baroness, Lady Penn, and their officials for their help, and to my fellow sponsors, the noble Baronesses, Lady Finlay and Lady Northover, and the noble Lords, Lord Ribeiro and Lord Alton, for the huge support they have given. I should also mention the enormous help I have had from Victoria Ledwidge of the end transplant abuse in China campaign.

The world is increasingly aware of China’s forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience. This horrific crime of forcibly removing the organs from living victims—a process leading to inevitable murder— has recently been found by the China Tribunal to be happening extensively.

Millions of Chinese citizens are currently detained in labour camps. UN experts estimate that at least 1 million Uighurs are being held in camps in the region of Xinjiang. Elsewhere throughout China, other ethnic and religious minorities are also being held in labour camps, such as Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners and Christians. This modern-day slavery has been entering the UK supply chain, and there is no doubt that we are currently complicit. I must say that I welcomed the Statement made today by the Foreign Secretary.

Last year, the China Tribunal concluded:

“Forced organ harvesting has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale and that Falun Gong practitioners have been one – and probably the main – source of organ supply” and that:

“In regard to the Uyghurs the Tribunal had evidence of medical testing on a scale that could allow them, amongst other uses, to become an ‘organ bank’.”

I hope the Government will seek to put pressure on the World Health Organization to take this seriously.

Domestically, the Bill provides an opportunity to prevent British complicity in such crimes and to send an important message to other countries. My amendment is designed to deal with gaps in current UK human tissue legislation. Currently, the Human Tissue Act does not require appropriate consent for imported human tissue. In addition, imported human tissue for use in medical research does not require traceability. Currently, neither the Human Tissue (Quality and Safety for Human Application) Regulations nor the Human Tissue Act require appropriate consent for imported human tissues for use in medicines. My amendment gives powers to Ministers to put this right. I should explain that the words “tissues” and “cells” are terminology which encompass all the human material that is used for the purposes of medicines. This includes organs.

The amendment would not include the prohibition of the dreadful travelling circus of Real Bodies exhibitions, nor would it include medical equipment manufactured and exported from the UK for the purpose of extracting or preserving human organs if exported to China. The noble Lord, Lord Alton, will come back to that point, and I know he has had some very helpful discussions with the noble Baroness, Lady Penn.

None the less, the passing of my amendment would be a significant action. By giving Ministers the power to make regulations, this is a specific act by the UK in relation to the abhorrent practices in China that I have spoken of. Of course, we need to see those regulations introduced and passed through Parliament. But, internationally, the UK’s action will be seen as a marker and a real signal to other countries.

Photo of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, on this very important amendment. It is an example of how, with high moral standards, the Ministers involved have been listening. With others, I wish to sincerely thank the noble Lords, Lord Bethell and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, and the noble Baroness, Lady Penn, who have listened to very difficult information and accepted the important responsibility we have on the world stage.

Many of us have been concerned for some time about forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience. The amendment is a strong signal that the UK does not turn a blind eye, however uncomfortable facing the problem may be.

Of course, there are other aspects beyond the scope of the Bill that we cannot ignore. First, the amendment covers only medicines. I have an ongoing concern that medical instruments or machines could be developed by experimenting on prisoners through practice operations or procedures. We must never forget the history of Dr Mengele and his colleagues, who claimed scientific pursuit, inflicting fatal torture on innocent people interned in concentration camps. Can the Government confirm that they will be increasingly vigilant over how imported products have been developed and manufactured, and make sure that we do not export anything that can continue some of the atrocities that we have heard of?

Secondly, there is a gap in the HTA regulations around proof of consent over imported tissues. Will the Government address that gap and ensure that newly obtained tissues cannot be imported without proper consent to donate those tissues?

Lastly, will the Government undertake to continue to support efforts to tackle transplant tourism? We know, sadly, that some people have misguidedly gone to China for organ transplantation. Tackling this requires a concerted effort, including increasing donor rates in other countries, as well as here, so as to decrease the demand that fuels killing for organs. But change takes time.

Today, we welcome wholeheartedly what the Government have done and the very important signals that are now being sent to the rest of the world. Like other noble Lords, I thank all those involved most sincerely.

Photo of Baroness Northover Baroness Northover Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 7:30, 12 January 2021

My Lords, praise will be ringing in Ministers’ ears from the first group of amendments, concerning the patient commissioner, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Cumberlege. There is praise again for listening on this issue.

The noble Baroness, Lady Penn, had the task, in the first instance, of rebutting the original amendment. I, for one, asked her to read the China Tribunal report to get a strong sense of the horrendous problem that was part of the context for this amendment. You could see that she was listening, and subsequent engagement has been very useful, as the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, have said. I am glad that the ministerial team has responded. It comes on the day that the Foreign Secretary has made a Statement in the Commons that focuses on human violations against the Uighurs.

I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, for consistently, and with great political skill, taking forward this issue, as he has done on the scandal of the “Real Bodies” exhibitions. I also pay tribute to the others who have worked in this area, including the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and the noble Lords, Lord Ribeiro and Lord Alton. This is a terrible problem and one that it would be easy to turn away from, but those noble Lords simply do not do so.

We need to make further progress across this area, and I am sure this will be taken forward. Forced organ harvesting, which according to the China Tribunal has happened on a mass scale in China, is a horrific crime. Organs are removed from living victims by doctors in state-run hospitals for transplantation, inevitably killing the victim in the process.

As the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said, the China Tribunal concluded that many victims were Falun Gong practitioners. A brutal and systematic crackdown on Falun Gong was initiated in 1999, with the Chinese leadership ordering their eradication. Many disappeared without trace, which was when China’s organ transplant trade rapidly increased. As we now recognise, in recent years there has been a similar crackdown on the ethnic-minority Uighurs. They have been put into re-education camps and have endured forced labour, brainwashing, rape and torture. The China Tribunal stated:

“In regard to the Uyghurs, the Tribunal had evidence of medical testing on a scale that could allow them, amongst other uses, to become an ‘organ bank’.”

Our amendment aims to ensure that no human tissue or cells that have been sourced from victims of organ harvesting can be used in human medicines or enter the UK medical supply chain. This is the first time the United Kingdom Government will enact legislation in this area, and we must hope that it sends a strong and clear message internationally. Thus far, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said, it is enabling, but the Government will know that many will be monitoring this area. We need to see those regulations in place.

I note the weakness of the HTA assessment of the “Real Bodies” exhibition, on which I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Alton, will expand, and its acceptance of what it was told, seemingly at face value. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, also, rightly, pointed to this. The amendment that we are agreeing today will help move things forward. I am grateful to the Government and their lawyers for working on this, although, clearly, we will all need to be vigilant and there is still much to do.

Photo of Lord Ribeiro Lord Ribeiro Conservative

My Lords, like the noble Lords who have spoken before me, I thank the Minister and the Government for accepting our amendment. I believe it sends a powerful message, not only to China but to other countries such as Pakistan and India, to which I referred in my speech of 28 October in Committee. In discussion with the Foreign Office, through the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, we were reassured that the diplomatic strategy would be to continue lobbying as many countries as possible on the issue of human rights and the immoral practice of forced organ harvesting. With the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, we undertook to raise awareness with the British Medical Association and the surgical royal colleges.

It is worth noting the World Health Organization’s Guiding Principles on Human Cell, Tissue and Organ Transplantation. Any programme such as the kidney pairing exchange, which makes it possible to utilise kidneys that are biologically incompatible between patients and their genetically or emotionally related donors, must follow and respect the WHO’s Guiding Principles of practice, particularly principles 3 and 5, which are worth quoting.

Principle 3 says:

“Live donations are acceptable when the donor’s informed and voluntary consent is obtained, when professional care of donors is ensured and follow-up is well organized, and when selection criteria for donors are scrupulously applied and monitored. Live donors should be informed of the probable risks, benefits and consequences of donation in a complete and understandable fashion; they should be legally competent and capable of weighing the information; and they should be acting willingly, free of any undue influence or coercion.”

Principle 5 states:

“Cells, tissues and organs should only be donated freely, without any monetary payment or other reward of monetary value. Purchasing, or offering to purchase, cells, tissues or organs for transplantation, or their sale by living persons or by the next of kin for deceased persons, should be banned.”

In 2017, the World Health Assembly supported a concept of financial neutrality to protect vulnerable people from being exploited. That is the essence of what this amendment achieves, and I am grateful to the Government and to the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, and the noble Baroness, Lady Penn, for endorsing it. I hope that they will maintain their pressure on the WHO to end these practices.

Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

My Lords, I start, as others have done, by thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Penn, and the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, for the way in which they have engaged with noble Lords such as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, who has put so much work into this—along with the noble Baronesses, Lady Finlay and Lady Northover, and the noble Lord, Lord Ribeiro—in trying to draw our attention to the enormity of the depredations that have occurred in China through forced organ harvesting. It is very productive that, this evening, the Government have been able to come forward with an amendment that has been agreed with the sponsors of the Committee amendment, having listened to the argument. I am especially grateful, as others have been, to the noble Baroness, Lady Penn, for the way in which she has engaged.

I will come back in a few moments, if I may, to two other issues that I have raised with her but which are not included in this amendment. They concern consent and the equipment that could be used in the extraction, freezing and harvesting of organs in China, and the question of whether, if British companies were involved in the production of such equipment, there is anything that we could do to forestall that.

On consent, the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, mentioned that, thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Penn, we have now seen the reports of the Human Tissue Authority of 2018 following its visit to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham to examine the plastinated bodies that had been taken there. These were corpses that had been put on public display—what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, referred to as part of a sort of travelling circus. A second exhibition was held later in the year.

It was extraordinarily naïve—at best—that no more probing was done into the origins of those bodies or how consent could possibly have been given from unknown, anonymised sources. Of course, it leaves the question hanging in the air of whether these were people who had been executed—they probably had been. Sadly, we know that that is the fate of many people, whether they are Falun Gong practitioners or people from different denominational minorities or faith communities, including the Uighurs. We have heard much already this evening, as well as in the Statement from the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, in the House of Commons this afternoon, about the plight of 1 million people who have been incarcerated because they will not conform to the diktats of the Chinese Communist Party.

It is extraordinary that such things can happen in the 21st century, but they are happening. That is why we have to be vigilant and do what we can to prevent the exploitation of people who are caught up in these circumstances. I think particularly this evening of a young woman called Zhang Zhan, who was arrested as a citizen journalist. She is a lawyer by background and had gone to Wuhan to investigate the origins of the coronavirus. She has been languishing in a jail ever since, for some of the time on hunger strike. We know that many dissidents—people who have spoken out against the regime—including lawyers, have been arrested, and some have disappeared, never to be seen again.

Therefore, it is crucial that we discover the origins of the bodies that are used in these sorts of exhibitions and displays, which I personally believe should be prohibited in their entirety. The idea that they can be paraded for macabre purposes should fill people with a sense of disgust. The anonymity of the cadavers should have made the Human Tissue Authority see that this was an issue that it should not just have turned a blind eye to. It is not good enough simply to say that we have a strong regulatory authority. We do: we have strong regulations, many of which came out following the scandal at Alder Hey in Liverpool. However, since then, we have failed to plug the loophole that I and others identified in 2018. We used that phrase—a loophole—in a letter to the Times, but it also appeared in an article in the Lancet. There was a loophole that needed to be filled when it came to organs and tissues from outside the United Kingdom.

The amendment goes some way to addressing that but I think that there also needs to be further regulation on the issue of consent. I also feel—and I would like to press the Minister on this—that we must do more about the export of equipment from the United Kingdom that could be used in forced organ harvesting. Maybe this could be done through export licence control. I noticed in the Statement to the House of Commons this afternoon and in the letter that has been circulated to Peers this evening by the right honourable Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, that he talks about there being a review of export controls as they apply to the situation in Xinjiang. He says that these measures are among the most stringent being implemented globally to help ensure that supply chains are free from forced labour.

That is welcome, but how ironic it would be if, in stopping coming into this country things that have been manufactured by slave labour in Xinjiang, we permitted the export of things to Xinjiang and elsewhere in China that were being used in the extraction, freezing and transportation of body parts in order to enable China to promote one of the biggest organ industries in the world. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, was right to say that we also need to do far more about the phenomenon of people travelling to other parts of the world to take organs from others. That kind of organ tourism is something that the British Government need to do more about.

That is all that I want to say. I look forward to hearing the reply from the noble Baroness, Lady Penn.

Photo of Baroness Jolly Baroness Jolly Liberal Democrat 7:45, 12 January 2021

My Lords, this has been a detailed, depressing debate and I feel completely powerless. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, for his phenomenal tenacity on this and to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for his tireless work. I am sure others do just as much and I do not know about it.

Amendment 13, led by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and signed by my noble friend Lady Northover and the Minister, would enable regulations under Clause 1(1) to make provision about the use of human tissues or cells in relation to human medicines. The amendment pushes the Government to respond to the horrifying practice of forced organ harvesting that evidence suggests is taking place in China. The account of organ banks by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, was chilling. Liberal Democrats, among others, have been vocal about the appalling human rights violations faced by the Uighurs. The amendment would be an important step in the right direction, and we urge the Government to do all they can to put an end to this practice.

It is most unusual for a Minister on a Bill to be included as a signatory to an amendment. It should send a real signal that our Government do not support this appalling treatment of minorities, and I commend him on this stance. I would be grateful if the Minister, in summing up, could tell us whether there is anything we could practically do on this matter.

Photo of Lord Collins of Highbury Lord Collins of Highbury Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development)

My Lords, I too thank all noble Lords who put their names to this amendment. It truly reflects the cross-party concern on this issue. I pay particular thanks to my noble friend Lord Hunt and the noble Lord, Lord Alton, who have been absolutely persistent in raising this at every level. We have debated this not only on this Bill but in other debates in this House.

I thank the noble Lord the Minister and particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Penn, for the regular meetings she has had with noble Lords to listen to our concerns. The fact that they have both listened and acted is a reflection of the good work this House can do in not acting in a partisan way. We have put the issue first and delivered on it. I am also grateful to the noble Baroness for the way she has gone to the limit of this Bill’s scope. I recognise that the Bill’s scope has placed limitations on us, but it does not stop us speaking about and delivering on the political issue that my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Alton, have raised. I am particularly pleased to thank everyone concerned.

I will pick up a couple of points. One of the big political issues that started my noble friend’s concern was the exhibitions we saw. The idea that consent could be given by dead or dying prisoners in China is absolutely ridiculous. We should never accept it and should continue to ensure that we strengthen regulation in that regard. It will be ongoing work.

I also pick up a point that both my noble friend Lord Hunt and the noble Lord, Lord Alton, raised in Committee; in fact, we raised it at Second Reading. We named two companies involved in supplying organ-preserving devices to mainland China. This could explain how organs are being transported around China, supporting this obnoxious practice of harvesting organs.

I was pleased to read the statement made by Dominic Raab in his announcement that the Government will conduct an urgent review of export controls, specifically as they apply to the situation in the Xinjiang Province, to, as he said,

“make sure that we are doing everything that we can to prevent the export of any goods that could directly or indirectly contribute to human rights violations in that region.”

We have heard in our debates in this House that that is potentially going on, and I hope that the Minister will be able to respond that she will work with both the FCDO and the International Trade Department to ensure that the concerns raised today will be reflected the review that Dominic Raab has promised. I hope she will take that up and, as raised by both the noble Baroness, Lady Northover and my noble friend Lord Hunt, the China tribunal’s conclusions about the nature of the practice that has been going on and the fact that the Uighurs and Falun Gong practitioners are its main victims.

As we have said in many debates, the Communist Party of China and the Government of the People’s Republic have denied all claims about this, despite the evidence of the tribunal, and have relied on the WHO clearing them of wrongdoing. Of course, we know that that is because the WHO does not have an independent expert compliance assessment mechanism: it relies on the Government of China and the Chinese Communist Party simply saying that it does not happen. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, has been consistent and persistent in raising this issue and it has been raised with the WHO, but I hope the Minister will be able to respond today that we will continue to raise it through the organ of the WHO.

In conclusion, I repeat what has been said by all noble Lords. The importance of this amendment is not simply the specific points of law that it will address. The most important thing the amendment and this debate tonight does is send a very clear message that we will not tolerate such appalling acts against humanity and will deliver for the people of China, not for the Communist Party of China.

Photo of Baroness Penn Baroness Penn Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

My Lords, I begin by thanking all noble Lords for their valuable and ongoing engagement on the matters raised by Amendment 13. Throughout the Bill’s passage, we have heard numerous passionate and heartfelt speeches on the allegations of organ harvesting in China and how the UK seeks to guard against complicity in any such practices. Anyone listening to speeches made by noble Lords in Grand Committee or this debate cannot have failed to understand the considerable strength of feeling behind those concerns. My noble friend Lord Bethell and I have greatly welcomed the thoughtful and constructive discussions on these issues.

Earlier today, the Foreign Secretary made an announcement setting out an ambitious package of measures that will help to ensure that no British organisations, whether public or private, are contributing inadvertently to human rights violations in Xinjiang. This demonstrates that we will not stand by as violations there continue. We will never hesitate to stand up for human rights as a force for good in the world.

The Government’s position is clear: if true, the practice of systemic, state-sponsored organ harvesting would constitute a serious violation of human rights. The China Tribunal report has been carefully considered by the FCDO and adds to a growing body of evidence about the disturbing situation that Falun Gong practitioners, Uighurs and other minorities face in China.

Given the considerable interest in these and related concerns over human rights violations in China, my noble friend Lord Ahmad, Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth, has met repeatedly a number of noble Lords with particular interest in these matters over recent months. I trust that these discussions have provided some assurance of the Government’s absolute commitment to strong UK action. The Minister, is, I know, committed to ongoing engagement in coming weeks.

During Grand Committee, the noble Lords, Lord Hunt and Lord Alton, made clear their view that the WHO should be further engaged to take more robust action and to provide greater transparency on organ transplant practices in China. I am pleased to tell noble Lords that continued efforts by FCDO Ministers to engage the WHO on these matters have led to a valuable meeting between senior officials at the UK Mission in Geneva and Jane Ellison, executive director for external relations at the WHO. These discussions have opened up dialogue with key international partners on organ harvesting allegations, which we are committed to continuing.

Crucially, noble Lords may know that my noble friend Lord Ahmad has committed to meeting Sir Geoffrey Nice QC in the coming months to discuss further the findings of his report. The FCDO is, I know, absolutely committed to considering carefully all and any evidence presented on allegations of organ harvesting in China. I want to take the opportunity on behalf of the Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth to thank my noble friend Lord Ribeiro and the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, for their role in engaging international medical organisations on these matters.

I now turn to the specifics of the amendment tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, to which I am pleased that my noble friend Lord Bethell has put his name. The amendment provides absolute clarity that the powers in Clause 2 of the Bill can be used to make regulatory changes about the use of human tissues or cells in legislation relating to human medicines.

While it is important to be absolutely clear that the use of imported tissue in any medicines on the UK market is extremely limited—there is only one licensed medicinal product in the UK that uses donor-derived tissues, and that tissue is sourced from within the EU—we are all in agreement that we would not want the UK medicines industry compromised by the use of human tissue or cells sourced through human rights violations. The amendment will ensure that we have the power to take action to amend or supplement provisions governing the use of human tissues in medicinal products in the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 or the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004 to help assure the integrity of tissues and cells used in UK medicines if necessary.

The drafting, an iteration of the wording of a similar amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, in Grand Committee, delivers important clarity on a number of points. In particular, the specific reference to both tissues and cells provides certainty on the scope of materials captured. The reference to definitions of those terms under the Human Tissues (Quality and Safety for Human Application) Regulations 2007 ensures consistency with wider UK legislation.

I am also assured that this drafting allows for provisions to encapsulate the full stream of activities in the regulation of medicines that could relate to the use of tissues and cells. Of course, as with any such provisions brought forward under Clause 1 of the Bill, this would be informed by public consultation, a critical step in ensuring the full consideration of an appropriate approach and mitigating against any unintended consequences—for instance, for the supply or development of medicines in the UK.

Finally, I recognise that noble Lords have raised a number of other important, related questions on how we safeguard domestic practices from being at risk of compromise by human rights violations overseas. In these discussions, we have sought to be completely clear with noble Lords on the limitations of what can be done under this Bill. However, let me reassure noble Lords that concerns have not gone unheard.

First and foremost, on the consent standards applied to tissues imported for the purposes of public display, I am pleased to announce that we will take forward work to strengthen the Human Tissue Authority’s code of practice on public display for imported tissues. Although such imports are rare, we are committed to ensuring that when tissues are imported from outside the UK for the purposes of display, the consent standards applied are clear, firm and enforceable.

By strengthening key safeguards, we can ensure that robust assurances on consent are fully received, considered, assessed and recorded, before any display licences are issued to importers or exhibitors. We will also look at how the Human Tissue Authority’s underpinning licensing processes can be used to strengthen compliance with standards. We will also be proactive and robust in communicating best practice to establishments and importers, for instance by issuing clear, detailed guidance on consent requirements to any establishments considering undertaking public display. This work is under way, and I am confident that, as a result, we can ensure that no exhibitors can display imported bodies without robust evidence of consent.

A related question was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and other noble Lords, concerning whether the export of medicines and medical devices could ultimately be used for unethical purposes. In the context of the UK export of medicines and devices, I must first emphasise the UK’s critical role as a leading supplier of medicines, vaccines and other essential health commodities which bring enormous benefits in low and middle-income countries around the world. Any proposal to apply rigorous export controls to medicines and devices presents a significant risk of unintended consequences for the many individuals who receive often life-saving safe and effective products supplied by UK companies. This risk is particularly pertinent when considering the types of medicines and devices that could theoretically be used for the purposes of organ extraction. This could capture any device used in general surgery, from syringes, sutures, scalpels up to ventilators and bypass machines. For medicines, it would include anaesthetics, muscle relaxants and antibiotics. Such steps could unduly affect the export of a huge range of goods being used for legitimate and critical functions.

Of course, it is absolutely right that we guard against the UK—and UK companies—being complicit in human rights abuses. The Government strongly back the business and human rights agenda and have consistently supported the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as the authoritative voluntary international framework to steer practical action by Governments and businesses worldwide. We are clear that we expect all our businesses to comply with all applicable laws, identify and prevent human rights risks and behave in line with the guiding principles. As demonstrated by the Foreign Secretary’s announcement earlier today, we are prepared to go further where there is clear cause for concern that UK actors could inadvertently contribute to human rights abuses overseas. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Collins, that I will convey to the FCDO, as part of that work, the concerns raised throughout the debate on this Bill and the issues that we have discussed at all stages.

Again, I thank noble Lords for their valuable and constructive engagement on these issues, and trust that they will be reassured by the announcement made earlier today by the Foreign Secretary to help ensure that no British organisations are contributing inadvertently to human rights violations in Xinjiang. I welcome Amendment 13, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and I am pleased to support it.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Labour 8:00, 12 January 2021

My Lords, this has been a short but incredibly important debate. In addition to the noble Lords that I have already thanked, I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, and my noble friend Lord Collins, for their sterling support throughout the passage of this Bill. It is much appreciated.

I stress that this amendment is not the definitive response to the horrific abuse taking place in China. It is enabling legislation, and there is much to do, as the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, said. We need greater vigilance over exports. Transplant tourism is another area of real concern.

The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and the noble Lord, Lord Alton, spoke about the HTA and its rather relaxed approach to the “Real Bodies” exhibitions. I find it extremely embarrassing that one of these exhibitions took place in Birmingham, but I am glad that the Commonwealth Games are coming to the city next year and that it has adopted a robust ethical policy which, if extended to the National Exhibition Centre in the future, would ensure that we would not see these exhibitions again.

The noble Lord, Lord Alton, has identified a number of other areas, to which the Minister responded to today, and the noble Lord, Lord Ribeiro, spoke very forcefully about the role of the World Health Organization. Again, I am very glad that the Government and the FCO in particular are talking closely to the WHO about it.

The noble Baroness, Lady Penn, sent a number of very important messages at the end: the revision and toughening up of the HTA’s code of practice and licensing procedures; and she talked about exports of medicines and devices. These are all welcome. However, we cannot be complacent. As my noble friend Lord Collins says, we cannot as a country show any tolerance towards these barbaric acts. This amendment is significant, particularly because it shows that the UK, with the support of government Ministers, is taking it seriously, and I am very grateful to all noble Lords who have helped to make this happen.

Amendment 13 agreed.

Photo of Lord Alderdice Lord Alderdice Deputy Chairman of Committees

We now come to the group consisting of Amendment 14. I remind noble Lords that Members other than the mover and the Minister may speak only once and that short questions of elucidation are discouraged. Anyone wishing to press the amendment to a Division must make that clear in the debate.

Clause 3: Falsified medicines