Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill [Lords]

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Dr. Harris: I take this opportunity to thank you, Mr. Hood, and your co-Chairman, Mr. Gale, for the way in which you chaired the Committee. I note that we have finished earlier than we had catered for, which is a testament to the fact that we have made excellent progress throughout. It is only fair that I first associate myself with the remarks of the Minister and the hon. Member for Boston and Skegness in thanking all those who have been of great help to the Committee.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Southport on putting his views so well. We have been debating a free-vote issue, and clearly neither he nor I have the skill shown by the hon. Member for Boston and Skegness as he represented all strands of the Conservative party. We decided to split the questions and ensure that we gained clarity from both sides on some fundamental ethical issues. On the one hand, I was delighted that my hon. Friend was to be a member of the Committee while, on the other hand, I was worried about it because he puts his views, which I sometimes do not share, so well.
I thank the hon. Member for Boston and Skegness for his kind words, as I thank the Minister for hers, although I wish to reject absolutely her scurrilous allegation that I have any skill as a draftsman—or that I claim such skill—or even that I have skill as a conciliator. I thank her for her approach in her more positive moments, which made being a member of the Committee as much of a pleasure as her less positive moments made it less so.
In concluding, I thank Becky Purvis from my office. She has had a heavy load to bear over the past few years on the issue. I welcome the contributions to the debate from other members of the Committee whose parliamentary career has been engaged in the study of some of the scientific issues involved. Although we have finished our proceedings well within time, I hope that that does not mean that we will not have enough time to debate on the Floor of the House issues that need to be decided on a free vote. We have had so few Divisions during our proceedings and finished so quickly because we know that other voices need to be heard on certain issues. I look forward to hearing them on Report.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill (except clauses 4, 11, 14 and 23, schedule 2, and any new clauses or new schedules relating to the termination of pregnancy by registered medical practitioners), as amended, to be reported.
Committee rose at eight minutes past Three o’clock.
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Prepared 13 June 2008