|Human Tissue Bill
Ms Winterton: I assure the hon. Gentleman that any consent given during a lifetime persists after death, but the purpose of clause 45 is to make it clear that material taken from a human body during medical treatment, diagnostic testing and research or relevant material that for whatever reason is no longer required for those scheduled purposes may be disposed of as waste. That can apply to material either from the living or the dead; the provisions of the clause are not affected by whether the person from whom the tissue came has subsequently died. The provision is merely a way of enabling tissue that is no longer required to be disposed of and of making it absolutely clear that that activity can be undertaken. I realise that it sounds odd that that has to be clarified, but it is important for the purposes of those undertaking such activities that it is clear that they can dispose of that material unless there has been a particular request to return it if necessary.
Dr. Harris: That was the point that I wanted to probe. I understand the purpose of the clause, but let us take the case of someone who has had an operation that involves cutting away tissuea minor amputation, for exampleand dies post-operatively. That tissue has not been taken from a deceased person. Does the Minister envisage that doctors will have a duty to offer the return of that material or will it be up to the family to request it? It is a valid point because issues have been raised in this respect and we would not want them to be raised again in an unplanned way.
Ms Winterton: Obviously, the authority will be looking at exactly how that would be made practicable. If a request were made about the return of tissue removed, it would obviously be respected. It is important that if, in giving consent for scheduled purposes, a particular request is made about what should happen to material afterwards, it should be taken into account.
In the light of those assurances, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Dr. Harris: Owing to the need for speed, I will not pursue the point except to note that there is a question about what happens when someone who has given consent for research to be carried out dies, and his family want everything that had been given for research, which may still be ongoing, to be returned in time for a burial.
Ms Winterton: Let me reassure the hon. Gentleman that if a person gives consent while alive to the use of surgical tissue, it will extend after death. The family would not be able to overturn that consent.
Dr. Harris: I am very grateful to the Minister for putting that on record because it will be necessary to ensure that relatives have realistic expectations of discussions concerning this important Bill. What the Minister said will help in that respect. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Dr. Harris: I beg to move amendment No. 126, in
Column Number: 244The purpose of this probing amendment is to give the Minister an opportunity to explain the purpose of clause 45(4), which states:
Ms Winterton: I accept that this is a probing amendment. It would remove a subsection that makes it clear that the reference to lawful disposal is not intended to affect the lawfulness or otherwise of other disposals of human material. Subsection (4) simply clarifies that by referring to certain disposals in the clause. We do not intend to cast doubt over the lawfulness of disposals that are not referred to in the clause, such as disposals of tissue that have come from a person's body during the course of cosmetic treatment. We are aware that, in the medical context only, there has been some uncertainty about the status of ''discarded'' tissue. That is why we have taken the opportunity to clarify the issue. However, in doing so, we did not want to create any doubt about the status of other material.
The clause allows for material that has come from a human body during the course of medical treatment, diagnostic testing or participation in research, or is relevant material that is no longer required for scheduled purposes, to be disposed of as waste. However, it does not insist that the material be disposed of as waste, not least because that may be against the person's wishes. For example, we would not intend to criminalise the use of human material for non-scheduled purposes, such as the development of cosmetics, if that is the wish of the tissue donor.
I hope that that clarifies matters for the hon. Gentleman.
Dr. Harris: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 45 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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