House of Lords written question – answered on 10th February 2010.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the dates for Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) inspections of centres 0017, 0157 and 0206 since 2004; whether each of these inspections was unannounced; what were the names of the inspectors on each occasion; and what were the names of HFEA licence committee members who reviewed information from these inspections.

Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Government Whip, Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that as a result of the consent order it met the applicant's legal costs of £188,754, which included interest. Other costs were incurred in the form of professional and administrative fees, which were met by the authority's overall budget for those fees. The total cost of the authority's professional and administrative fees is outlined in its annual reports, copies of which are in the Library and available on the HFEA's website at: www.hfea.gov.uk.

The cited costs do not take into account the General Medical Council (GMC) proceedings that the noble Lord refers to because the authority was not party to these proceedings. No members of the authority played a role in these proceedings. Two members of staff and one former member of staff provided witness statements to the GMC. Subsequently, one of the members of staff and the former staff member were called upon to give evidence to the GMC. Some minor costs were incurred in this regard.

The HFEA has advised that it paid Hanover Communications, of which Charles Lewington is managing director, £71,184 for services provided by his public relations consultancy during 2007 and 2008.

The HFEA has also advised that the nature of an inspection, the members of the authority and the members of staff involved, are outlined in the relevant inspection reports and licence committee meeting minutes, the most recent of which are published on the authority's website. The HFEA has advised that it will take a significant amount of time to compile the information requested by the noble Lord, relating to inspection reports and licence committee minutes since 2004. Therefore, I have asked the authority's interim chief executive to endeavour to complete this work within 20 working days and I will write to the noble Lord as soon as I receive the information and place a copy of my letter in the Library.

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