|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Dr. Fox: The hon. Lady spoke at the outset of her speech about people who might delude themselves in this debate. She should not delude herself into thinking that the Bill is a high-minded measure that the Government have designed to fulfil their manifesto commitments. It was introduced as a result of the court judgment, which left them extremely exposed. We are not considering the Bill in the way in which it should be considered. It is being rushed through all its stages in the House of Commons in one day. That is a measure of how rushed the Government require it to be. We need far more measured legislation that covers a much wider area than we are discussing now.
Glenda Jackson: I do not recall using the phrase "high-handed" or even "high-minded". I support the Government's introduction at such speed of this very small, tightly controlled and focused Bill for the reasons that I have given. It is important that the House shows that it supports in the main the areas of scientific advance that can bring genuine support not tomorrow or next year, but a long way down the line, and that can actively play a part in relieving the unnecessary burdens of so many millions of people around the world. The argument should not be left to those who maliciously argue that any such exploration or scientific discovery is anti-life or will automatically produce cloned human beings, so I say that the House should stand firm and support the Bill.
Mr. David Amess (Southend, West): I disagree with everything that the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Glenda Jackson) has said. Some years ago, she sought to divide the House on a ten-minute Bill that I had tabled to stop sex selection. She was proud that she defeated a Bill that tried to stop sex selection in this country. I was not convinced by her arguments and I found her completely confusing.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough. in his reasoned amendment, has shown up the Bill for what it is. It is hopeless. As my hon. Friend the Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) suggested, the idea that the Government are coming forward like a knight in shining armour to deliver the Bill is ridiculous. We are participating in these dreadful proceedings because of the Government's incompetence. That is the way
Miss Begg: I had not been aware of the hon. Gentleman's Bill on sex selection. He must accept that, under the original Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has stopped sex selectionit did so in the case of a couple in Monifieth. The Act that the hon. Gentleman is so heavily criticising, passed by a Conservative Government when he was in the House, has done what he wanted. Is it not also the case that if the Government win their appeal, which I hope that they do, all the other issues that is raising will be covered by the Bill?
Mr. Amess: That is not the case. Furthermore, the tacky little operation that peddles the idea that people can choose the sex of their child is still offering its services in north London. I see that the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate has now gone. Anyway, I am not entirely sure about that.
The reason why I am so cynical about the Bill is that there are undoubtedly vested interests in this area. It is no great coincidence that in November 2000, the Prime Minister gave a speech to the European bioscience conference in London. That was at the same time, by the way, that he would not agree to have a meeting with the leaders of all our faiths, yet he managed to attend this conference. He told delegates that the biotechnology market in Europe alone would be worth $100 billion and
In September 1999, Lord Sainsbury appeared at a fringe meeting at the Labour party conference and declared his unequivocal support for embryonic stem cell research. The BioIndustry Association sponsored the meeting, and Lord Sainsbury shared a platform with Dr. Simon Best, the director of Geron BioMed. Michael West, who founded Geron BioMed, was the gentleman associated with the recent example of human cloning. Is this a coincidence, I ask myself?
Mr. Stephen Pound (Ealing, North): May I counsel the hon. Gentleman, in as gentle a manner as I am capable of, that many of us in the Chamber are strongly minded to support the reasoned amendment? However, every word that he launches into the Chamber makes us less inclined to do so.
I am not suggesting that any Labour Member has any part in a vested interest, but I have some difficulty with the matter not being dealt with even-handedly. For instance, Dr. Chris Evans is one of the Labour party's largest donors. He is involved in the £100 million genome campus in Cambridgeshire. In 1996, his company backed a company called ReNeuron, which was set up by three scientists at King's college. He invested £5 million in the only UK company developing an innovative cell transplantation technology with the potential to treat brain disorders. A long list of people, including Sir Ronald Cohen, Dr. George Poste, Professor Christine Gosden and Anne McLaren have a vested interest in the matter and also have the Government's ear.
This is a complex issue. We have heard a number of well researched and expert contributions, and ranged over complicated matters of law and difficult matters of science. I wonder whether I need two brains rather than one to catch up, but I shall do my best to deal with as many issues as possible.
First, the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) asked when the Government first knew that the legal position meant that it was necessary to introduce the legislation before the House. I can confirm that the point at which the Government knew was 15 November, when Mr. Justice Crane handed down the judgment in the High Court. That necessitated this urgent legislation. Until then, the view was that human reproductive cloning remained illegal because the embryology authority would refuse to license it. Therefore, in the absence of a licence, it would be a criminal offence if carried out.