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4.42 pm

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough): I appreciate that this is a very difficult issue for the House; we are now entering a moral maze. I also appreciate the great

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knowledge and commitment brought to such matters by the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris). Many hon. Members will be desperately concerned about the appalling diseases, especially in children, that could be dealt with by such research. The hon. Gentleman has done the House a service in bringing the matter forward. However, I shall oppose the Bill for three reasons.

First, I believe that it is unethical. I shall deal with that in a moment. Secondly, contrary to what the hon. Gentleman says, I believe that it could pave the way to human cloning. Lastly, also contrary to what he says, I believe that it is unnecessary; the use of adult stem cells represents an alternative.

The House will agree that the ethical issues are probably the most important. Every hon. Member was once an embryo, and we are talking about people who could develop into full human beings. I, and many others, believe that the use of early embryonic tissue--or unborn children, for that is what they are--purely for their cells is morally and ethically repugnant. The process proposed involves taking the stem cells of young embryos, growing them into other body tissues and experimenting on them to develop new body parts for the sufferers of some diseases. However, that will involve the artificial creation of thousands of human embryos purely to use them and then kill them. I believe that that is wrong.

If, like me, the House believes that one cannot draw a line during the development of an unborn child and say that one day it is a human being and the next it is not, or that one minute it is a human being and the next it is not, the only logical and ethical conclusion is that life begins at conception.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the cut-off point of 14 days. Photographs recently taken by a Swedish photographer clearly show the development of the brain and an obvious distinction between the two lobes in a 14-day-old foetus. The hon. Gentleman is talking about research into an embryo in which brain cells are growing at the rate of 100,000 neurons a minute. Surely it cannot be said that such growth is not that of an unborn child. We were all at that stage once, and we developed into fully grown people. It surely cannot be argued that it is ethical to perform experiments on such unborn children and to harvest them purely for their stem cells. To allow the creation of life purely for commercial ends and research would take away the inherent value of individuals and their right to life. It would be to treat them purely as a means to an end; as something to be used and then discarded.

As long ago as 1956, the World Medical Association argued that the interests of society should never take precedence in research over those of the individual. It clearly included in its definition of the individual "identifiable human material". That, therefore, included embryos. All of us in this House totally reject the claim by past totalitarian societies that medical research could put the interests of society over those of the individual. To pass the Bill and to argue that embryos--each of which is capable of developing into a full, sentient human being--should be so used would be very dangerous indeed.

The use of early embryonic tissue is thus ethically reprehensible because it allows the creation and destruction of human life on a vast scale. No fewer than 277 embryos were used and destroyed in the creation of

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Dolly the sheep alone. That takes away the inherent value of the human being and raises the spectre of abuse of the individual in the name of the good of society. That is not acceptable.

My second argument, with which I hope some will agree, is that to allow research into early embryonic tissue would be to allow the development of human cloning, which would inevitably lead to full reproductive human cloning. The process is the same; the difference is only a matter of degrees. The cell nuclear replacement process involves the insertion of a cell from someone into the emptied egg cell, which then divides and multiplies, just as any embryo would. The development of therapeutic research requires the extraction and use of the stem cells that are formed by the egg as it multiplies. It would be only one stage further to allow the egg to develop, implant it into a foster mother and allow it to be born. Thus, we would have the full clone of a human being. Many scientists believe that that is inevitable. Surely, in this of all places, we would want to draw a line to prevent human cloning.

Finally, contrary to the hon. Gentleman's comments, the greatest tragedy of this debate is that research with early embryonic tissue is not inevitable. It is not even essential to development of the life-saving cures of which we hear so much. There is an alternative that is far less ethically controversial: the use of adult stem cells. Such cells are similar to embryonic stem cells, but in some ways better suited to the job. They are more stable and it is easier for scientists to control them.

Recent research has shown that adult stem cells can be just as effective at developing into new tissue. Scientists in Florida have shown that bone marrow stem cells taken from adults can be turned into immature nerve cells and so could be used to help combat diseases such as Parkinson's. As more research has been conducted, adult stem cells have proved to be far more effective than scientists believed. The beauty of the alternative is that it deals with consenting adults; people give permission. The danger of the hon. Gentleman's Bill is that it would deal with people who, by definition, have no control.

I ask the House to reject the Bill on three grounds: it is unethical and morally repugnant, it could lead to full human cloning and, above all, it is not necessary. I appreciate all the vigour and concern that the hon. Gentleman brings to the debate, but as C.S. Lewis said:

I believe that the Bill is a gradual, soft and inevitable road to hell, and I urge the House to reject it.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 23 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business):--

The House divided: Ayes 83, Noes 175.

Division No. 315
[4.49 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Ashton, Joe
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blackman, Liz
Boswell, Tim
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Chidgey, David
Clapham, Michael
Clwyd, Ann
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Donohoe, Brian H
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Etherington, Bill
Fabricant, Michael
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Gapes, Mike
Gidley, Sandra
Godman, Dr Norman A
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Harris, Dr Evan
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Keetch, Paul
Lansley, Andrew
McDonnell, John
Mallaber, Judy
Maxton, John
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Miller, Andrew
Mountford, Kali
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Oaten, Mark
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Plaskitt, James
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Laurence
Rogers, Allan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Todd, Mark
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Tyrie, Andrew

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Crispin Blunt and
Dr. Ian Gibson.


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Benton, Joe
Best, Harold
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Collins, Tim
Colman, Tony
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Dawson, Hilton
Day, Stephen
Dismore, Andrew
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Edwards, Huw
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fallon, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Flight, Howard
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Galloway, George
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Godsiff, Roger
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hepburn, Stephen
Hood, Jimmy
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hurst, Alan
Jenkins, Brian
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McCabe, Steve
Macdonald, Calum
McFall, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLoughlin, Patrick
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Malins, Humfrey
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Martlew, Eric
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Meale, Alan
Mudie, George
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Nicholls, Patrick
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pearson, Ian
Pond, Chris
Pound, Stephen
Prior, David
Quinn, Lawrie
Randall, John
Rapson, Syd
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robathan, Andrew
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
St Aubyn, Nick
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shaw, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Trend, Michael
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tyler, Paul
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walter, Robert
Ward, Ms Claire
Wardle, Charles
Wareing, Robert N
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mrs. Ann Winterton and
Mr. Jim Dobbin.

Question accordingly negatived.

31 Oct 2000 : Column 632


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): With permission, I shall put together the motions relating to delegated legislation.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

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