Clause 4 - Nominated representatives

Human Tissue Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 29th January 2004.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Shadow Secretary of State for Health 3:45 pm, 29th January 2004

I beg to move amendment No. 10, in

clause 4, page 5, line 10, at end insert—

'(8A) If, in accordance with the requirements of subsections (3) to (5), a person writes to disallow any person from enjoying a qualifying relationship as defined in section 24, then that adverse nomination shall apply in relation to appropriate consent.'.

A provision in clause 4 allows a person, having been nominated, to renounce their appointment. I point that out because amendment No. 10 is designed to explore the question not so much of a nominated representative, but of a person who is in a ''qualifying relationship''.

If an individual has not provided consent and has not nominated anyone as their representative, after their death the provisions in clause 24 would come into effect. However, clause 24 does not permit anyone, by virtue of an instrument of the sort set out in clause 4(3) to (5), to vary in advance who is in a ''qualifying relationship'' with them for the purposes of giving consent.

If I am wrong, I will be pleased to hear why; otherwise, I hope that it might be possible to include the amendment. It is always a sensitive issue, but none of us is without experience of families in which, if they thought about it, some people would be excluded from the ''qualifying relationship'' of others. We should permit it.

Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health

I guess that we could call it the amendment to ensure that the annoying relative who gets drunk at family Christmas parties is in no position to dispose of one's body parts after death. Although I have no experience of the hon. Gentleman's family, I can see why in principle he would consider the amendment necessary.

Sufficient safeguards already exist in the Bill, however. Were someone to go to the trouble of identifying another whom they did not want to be nominated to act on their behalf, it would be more simple to do it the other way round by nominating someone to act on their behalf. That is already in the Bill, so we have already adequately covered the amendment. I undertake to consider it further before

Report, but it is an unnecessary amendment and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw it.

Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Shadow Secretary of State for Health 4:00 pm, 29th January 2004

I am grateful to the Under-Secretary, not least for agreeing to think about this matter. It seems rather a burdensome and unlikely proposition that people will specify their own structure of qualifying relationships prior to death, and more likely that they might specify who was not in a qualifying relationship with them. It is rather like constructing a will—the difficulty being that one does this on the basis of a range of hypothetical circumstances that might accrue before the point of one's death. In practice, it is probably simpler to exclude somebody from a qualifying relationship than to anticipate all the circumstances that might arise before death. If the Under-Secretary is willing to think about it, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.