Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Deceased Fathers) Bill

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Mr. Clarke: The three-month rule for retrospective cases is mentioned in clauses 2 and 3. Amendment No. 4 provides for discretion to be exercised in such retrospective cases. The hon. Gentleman rightly presumes that retrospective cases will be those from 1991 until such time as the new Act comes into force. In those cases, there will be three months for mothers to apply, but with discretion. I hope that that covers his points.

Dr. Harris: I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman could clarify my second point, which referred to storage rather than simply use.

Mr. Clarke: We are dealing with the registration of birth, not the registration of storage. Storage can be for any period up to 39 years, so it would be very difficult to introduce legislation to cover it. The Bill is concerned with storage only when it leads to conception. Storage is not relevant to the purpose of the Bill, which is registration.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 3, in page 3, line 45, at end insert

    ``and before the coming into force of this Act.''.—[Mr. Clarke.]

No. 4, in page 4, line 23, at end add—

    ``( ) Where the child concerned was born before the coming into force of this Act, section 28 of the Act of 1990 shall have effect as if—

    (a) subsection (5DD) were omitted; and

    (b) in subsection (5DE), for the words ``42 days or (as the case may be) 21 days'' there were substituted ``three months''.''.—[Mr. Clarke.]

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Tony Clarke: The clause refers to the schedule that effects the necessary amendments to births, deaths and adoption legislation in the United Kingdom. It makes the application of the Bill retrospective, which means that births in any circumstances set out in clause 1 since August 1991, when the relevant provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 came into force, may be registered or re-registered. The clause also specifies that a woman who wishes, under clause 1, to register or re-register a child must first elect to do so in writing within three months of the Act coming into force. I recommend to the Committee that clause 2, as amended, should stand part of the Bill.

Dr. Harris: I must briefly return to my earlier point because I think that I was misunderstood. Presumably, the reference in clause 2 to

    ``on or after 1st August 1991''

relates to the coming into force of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. That regulates the storage of gametes and embryos and their subsequent use in fertility treatment. Would it not be appropriate in clause 2(2) to state that the Act will apply to any case where the sperm of a man—or an embryo that was brought about with the sperm of a man—was stored or used on or after 1 August 1991? That would ensure that the provisions, despite their shortcomings, apply from the moment of storage, which the Act governs. Will the hon. Gentleman indicate that he understands my point?

Mr. Clarke: I well understand the point. There may be retrospective cases where the sperm used for conception may have been stored prior to the 1990 Act. However, in respect of the Bill, we can only deal with the issues related to the registration of the birth of a child, and should not complicate matters by addressing the date of storage.

Dr. Harris: The Bill could, however, refer to when a child is born after 1 August 1991, instead of choosing the use of the sperm at conception as a start point. I accept that that is a start point of some kind, but there is a legal argument that the start point should either be from the time of storage, or birth, and not simply from the time of use.

Mr. Clarke: The House may wish to return to that point later.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule agreed to.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

        Committee rose at two minutes to One o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Sayeed, Mr. Jonathan (Chairman)
Beggs, Mr.
Boswell, Mr.
Clarke, Mr. Tony
Cooper, Yvette
Eagle, Maria
Harris, Dr.
Hawkins, Mr.
Henderson, Mr. Ivan
Hunter, Mr.
Shipley, Ms
Taylor, Mr. John M.

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