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Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean) : In accordance with precedent I cast my vote to leave the Bill as reported from the Committee, and accordingly my vote is with the Noes, so the Noes have it. Question accordingly negatived.

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Order for Third Reading read.

10.55 pm

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The last vote symbolised the fact that we have talked ourselves to exhaustion with just five minutes left on the Bill. I should like to thank the officials, doctors and lawyers in my Department who helped me and a number of hon. Members during the passage of the Bill. The Government introduced the Bill because of the need to have legislation on the important matter of embryo research. The House has always agreed that we need to have a Bill either banning research or regulating it. The House took advantage of the Bill to introduce law reform, and there was general agreement that we should take this opportunity to resolve the outstanding issues on abortion law to demonstrate to the public that we could come to a conclusion and settle the issue for some years.

It has been agreed throughout that once the House had made its clear decision in a free vote on all the ethical matters under consideration, it was our duty to present legislation to settle matters in the country so that the medical profession, the public and all those who hold strong views would know where they stood on these important matters. We have now resolved all the issues on embryology and abortion and I hope that we can end on a non-controversial note by giving a Third Reading to a Bill that is obviously needed to resolve this issue for some time.

10.57 pm

Ms. Richardson : I think that this is the first time that I have seen the Whips so mixed up. I suppose that was because we had a dead heat in the vote on the last amendment. There seemed to be some confusion, but there has been understandable confusion throughout the passage of the Bill.

I should like to add my thanks to those of the Secretary of State for Health for the help that his officials have given us in drafting. We are grateful for that. I should also thank the many people on both sides of the argument who have sent us many letters and much information. All our debates and consideration have made us better informed than we were when the Bill started on its way, and that is because of the attention that outside bodies have given to the House. They gave us the information that we needed to make up our minds. Proceedings in Committee were meticulous, correct and enjoyable and I am grateful to the Minister for Health for her help. I do not think that I have ever had the last word in the House at the closing stage of a Bill. I hope that I shall have the opportnity on future Bills to have the last word again.

10.59 pm

Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland and Lonsdale) : I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson), but I too want to have perhaps the last word by expressing my warmest thanks to my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Government for the way in which they have responded to a point that I made on Second Reading.

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Last night the House agreed to amendments to cover a situation which could arise under the Bill whereby the woman who bears a child will always be regarded as the mother except in cases, such as the one that I drew to the attention of the House, where, with the full agreement of the surrogate mother who has a total power of veto, the genetic parents of a child can go to the High Court and ask to be regarded as the true parents--

It being Eleven o'clock, Mr. Speaker-- proceeded, pursuant to the Order [2 April] and the Resolution [20 June], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time : The House divided : Ayes 303. Noes 65.

Division No. 258] [11 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Adley, Robert

Alexander, Richard

Allason, Rupert

Allen, Graham

Amery, Rt Hon Julian

Arbuthnot, James

Archer, Rt Hon Peter

Armstrong, Hilary

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Ashton, Joe

Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Baldry, Tony

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)

Barron, Kevin

Batiste, Spencer

Beckett, Margaret

Bellingham, Henry

Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter

Blunkett, David

Boateng, Paul

Bonsor, Sir Nicholas

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Boswell, Tim

Bottomley, Peter

Bottomley, Mrs Virginia

Boyes, Roland

Bradley, Keith

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)

Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)

Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)

Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Buchan, Norman

Butler, Chris

Butterfill, John

Caborn, Richard

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carr, Michael

Carrington, Matthew

Cartwright, John

Chapman, Sydney

Churchill, Mr

Clark, Dr David (S Shields)

Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)

Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)

Clay, Bob

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Cohen, Harry

Coleman, Donald

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cope, Rt Hon John

Corbyn, Jeremy

Couchman, James

Cousins, Jim

Cox, Tom

Cryer, Bob

Currie, Mrs Edwina

Darling, Alistair

Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)

Devlin, Tim

Dobson, Frank

Doran, Frank

Dorrell, Stephen

Durant, Tony

Eastham, Ken

Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)

Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)

Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas

Fallon, Michael

Farr, Sir John

Fatchett, Derek

Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)

Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)

Fishburn, John Dudley

Fisher, Mark

Flannery, Martin

Flynn, Paul

Fookes, Dame Janet

Forman, Nigel

Forth, Eric

Foster, Derek

Foulkes, George

Fox, Sir Marcus

Franks, Cecil

Fraser, John

Freeman, Roger

Fyfe, Maria

Gale, Roger

Gardiner, George

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Garrett, John (Norwich South)

George, Bruce

Gill, Christopher

Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian

Glyn, Dr Sir Alan

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Golding, Mrs Llin

Goodlad, Alastair

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Gorman, Mrs Teresa

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Gregory, Conal

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

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