Embryology

House of Lords written question – answered on 7th June 2007.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether it is their intention, as intimated at Clause 16(5) and (6) of the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill, to permit the possibility of reproductive cloning; and

Whether the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill will supersede the Human Reproductive Cloning Act 2001 by permitting the placing of a human embryo in a woman if the regulator deems that the embryo has undergone a process designed to avoid mitochondrial disease; and in what way this new provision would prevent reproductive cloning.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Minister of State, Department of Health, Minister of State (Department of Health) (NHS Reform)

The Government are committed to a ban on reproductive cloning, and nothing in the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill is intended to permit it. Provisions in the draft Bill, however, supersede the Human Reproductive Cloning Act 2001, which was introduced to prevent reproductive cloning. In updating the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, the draft Bill now prohibits reproductive cloning so the Human Reproductive Cloning Act 2001 is accordingly repealed.

The Bill has been published in draft for pre-legislative scrutiny by a parliamentary committee. Clause 16(5) introduces new Section 3ZA into the 1990 Act and defines which eggs and embryos can be placed in a woman. Only permitted eggs and embryos can be used in treatment. This excludes embryos created by reproductive cloning techniques.

New Section 3ZA(5) allows for regulations to include, in the category of permitted eggs and/or embryos, those which have had applied to them in prescribed circumstances a prescribed process designed to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial disease. Any such regulations would be subject to affirmative resolution in both Houses.

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