|Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Deceased Fathers) Bill
Dr. Harris: I note that the Minister is not rising to speak, so I will sum up on the amendments.
On amendments Nos. 5, 6, 9, 8, 11, 12, 14 and 15, I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. I am concerned about two areas, although I agree that we do not have to go into them at any greater length now. I would be far more reassured about what will go on abroad if we could have a provision to ensure, at least in future, that consent and the removal and storage of gametes is lawful up to the point where it relates to this country.
We must try to satisfy ourselves on the issue of lawful consent where these things are undertaken abroad. However, we are making UK law, and the registration of the father on the birth certificate pertains to the UK. It is not clear that we should necessarily change our laws on the registration of births to fit in with practices that may be wholly unacceptable to us
The Chairman: Order. The hon. Gentleman is becoming somewhat repetitious. I would be grateful if he brought his remarks to a close.
Dr. Harris: I apologise. I take your point, Mr. Sayeed.
In that respect, concerns remain to be answered. It has not been made clear to me why donor sperm can be used in the UK only when the couple are not married but anywherenot just in the UK, but overseaswhen they are. The protections that are required when donor sperm is used should not be completely done away with simply on production of a marriage certificate. Very quick marriages may occur, designed to circumvent restrictions in this area. That must be explored at greater length.
It is reasonable, during the Committee stage of the Bill, to request an explanation of the point that I raised about the inclusion of artificial insemination. It is unfortunate that I am going to be asked whether I wish to press my amendments in the absence of such an explanation, despite the assistance available to the Minister. Nevertheless, I look forward to that explanation.
As I have made clear, I am not satisfied by the undertakings that I have been given and it may be that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority would not be satisfied in relation to amendments Nos. 7, 10, 13 and 16. For that reason I intend to seek to test the opinion of the Committee on amendment No. 7 only, and not on amendment No. 5. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed: No. 7, in page 1, line 28, at end insert
Question put, That the amendment be made:
The Committee divided: Ayes 1, Noes 6.
Division No. 1]
Mr. Tony Clarke: I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 3, line 18, at end insert
The amendment is a simple change to the Bill that recognises the difference in registration legislation between England and Wales and Scotland. Proposed new subsection (5DD) substitutes a reference to a period of 21 days for registration of births in Scotland. That will make the time limit in the Bill for registering births in Scotland consistent with existing legislation. Likewise, proposed new subsection (5DE) will enable one to make an election outside the 42-day period in England, Wales or Northern Irelandor the 21-day period in Scotlandwith the consent of the Registrar-General. That will allow the Registrar-General some discretion. Under proposed new subsection (5DF), the Registrar-General may consent to the making of an election outside that period if he is satisfied that there is a compelling reason for him to do so. Proposed new subsection (5DG) defines the Registrar-General.
In essence, we are trying to ensure that the Bill is consistent with the existing legislation of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland but also gives the Registrar-General discretion, so that where the mother has not applied within the set time, he may still use his discretion to allow the registration to take place.
Dr. Harris: May I clarifythe hon. Gentleman may have been stating this, although not in termswhether without proposed new subsections (5DF) and (5DE), no retrospection would be available? By definition, such cases would fall outside the 42 or 21-day period. Is the amendment to provide not only for Scotland but a for mechanism by which retrospective cases may be considered, as they will almost inevitably occur hundreds or thousands of days after the birth?
Mr. Clarke: If it is helpful to the hon. Gentleman, there are separate circumstances for retrospective applications, which may be registered within three months of the Act coming into forceor longer, with the consent of the Registrar-General. That provision is not the same as the amendment, which relates to the difference in legislation for Scotland and Northern Ireland, England and Wales. The 90-day rule for retrospective applications will still be in force following the Bill's enactment.
Dr. Harris: Does the discretion to go beyond the 42 or 21-day limit concern cases where the woman is incapacitated after birth by medical problems, and will therefore not have had an opportunity to register, or does the hon. Gentleman envisage other circumstances?
Mr. Clarke: The circumstances that the hon. Gentleman mentions will be usual. The reason for the difference between the 42 and 21 days is simply the difference in law between the Acts. In all cases, the Registrar-General's discretion can be used for the purpose that the hon. Gentleman mentions and other purposes, if he feels that to be reasonable.
Amendment agreed to.
The Chairman, being of the opinion that the principle of the clause and any matters arising thereon had been adequately discussed in the course of debate on the amendments proposed thereto, forthwith put the Question, pursuant to Standing Orders Nos. 68 and 89, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.
Question agreed to.
Clause 1, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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