Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Gamete and Embryo Import and Export: Licences

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Discussions have been held at official level about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's policies in respect of the issues raised by Mr. Handel's clinic.

We do not know what charges Mr. Handel's clinic makes for each fertilised embryo.

The import of human gametes (sperm and eggs), and the import and export of embryos, all require individual special directions from the HFEA. Since 1 August 1991, 10 such directions have been issued for the import of gametes; 15 for the import of embryos; and 29 for the export of embryos.

The export of gametes is subject to a general direction made by the HFEA. Subject to the conditions in that direction being met, licensed clinics may export gametes without specific application to the HFEA.

No licences have been issued to Mr. Handel's centre. HFEA licences can only be granted to clinics in the United Kingdom and import and export directions can only be granted to HFEA licensed clinics. Within the last month, one export direction has been granted to a licensed clinic to export embryos to the Center for Surrogate Parenting and Egg Donation Inc. of Beverley Hills, California. These embryos were for a named patient's own use.

The use of gametes and embryos raises special ethical and legal issues. These were considered in detail by Parliament during the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which provides, among other things, for the import and export of human gametes and embryos. The Act came into force only after much discussion and a free vote in both Houses, and following considerable public consultation.

3 Jun 1998 : Column WA38

Euthanasia and Cessation of Treatment

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the difference between euthanasia and the removal of food and liquids from a terminally ill patient; and, if this is not euthanasia, what is this procedure called.[HL1969]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Euthanasia, as commonly understood, is the deliberate killing of a person, whether at that person's own request or for a merciful motive. Euthanasia is unlawful and anyone alleged to have undertaken it is open to charges of murder or manslaughter.

The courts have ruled that artificial hydration and nutrition is "medical treatment". The cessation of this treatment has no short name, but in the case of Anthony Bland the judge at first instance described the situation as one where doctors "may lawfully discontinue all life-sustaining treatment and medical support measures". Where the patient is not able to consent to treatment, and in the absence of a valid advance directive, it is a doctor's duty to act in the best interests of his patient. Sometimes this may mean the cessation of treatment which is no longer beneficial. In these circumstances, suitable medical care should be provided to ensure that the comfort and dignity of the patient are maintained.

Artificial Limb Provision

Lord McColl of Dulwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the provision of artificial limbs, especially in young amputees.[HL2049]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: All decisions on the choice of artificial limb to be provided to amputees, including young amputees, are a matter for the rehabilitation consultant at the local Disablement Services Centre in discussion with the patient and their family.

In deciding the funding available for the purchase of artificial limbs, health authorities must take into account all their other funding responsibilities within the resources available.

Magilligan Prison: Detainees

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider detention in Her Majesty's Prison Magilligan is desirable or suitable for persons whose entry into a part of the United Kingdom is under investigation; and whether they are considering detention of such cases in another institution or location more suitable than a prison.[HL1974]

3 Jun 1998 : Column WA39

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The use of HMP Magilligan to house detainees is not ideal, but represents the only viable option for the small number of cases in which immigration detention in Northern Ireland is deemed appropriate. The provision of a separate detention centre in Northern Ireland has been considered but cannot be justified on cost or efficiency grounds. Transfer to a mainland detention centre, where detainees would be distanced from friends and representatives, would not be reasonable.

Baton Round Development

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give a report on the production of a baton round which will deliver an impact which is not intended to cause serious or life threatening injury, but is of sufficient force to prevent an individual from retaliating against the forces of law and order; and when it will enter service.[HL1945]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: A replacement for the current baton round is currently being developed by the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office and the Royal Ulster Constabulary for operational use by the army and police. This work will take advantage of improved technology in pursuit of the objective of providing a baton round system which can deliver an impact which is not intended to cause serious or life threatening injury, but is of sufficient force to prevent an individual from throwing a missile or breaching a sterile zone. The force delivered should be enough to dissuade repetition of the offending action.

The baton round currently in service is designed to deliver these same objectives. The new round is currently planned to become available for operational use at the end of 1999.

Refugee Women in Europe: Report

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have studied Document 8066 of 7 April prepared for the Council of Europe by Mrs. Inga-Britt Johanssen on the Situation of Refugee Women in Europe; and how far their own policy meets the recommendations in the document.[HL1923]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Government policy is consistent with the approach recommended by Mrs. Johanssen.

All asylum applications, whether from men or women, are considered without discrimination in accordance with the criteria set out in the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Gender is taken into account in the assessment of individual claims where this is relevant.

To meet our obligations to help male and female refugees to resettle in the United Kingdom, we give

3 Jun 1998 : Column WA40

grants to voluntary organisations who assist with the reception and resettlement of both refugees and asylum seekers. These organisations provide advice and support to individuals and strive to improve their access to the available statutory services. They also work to develop refugee community groups, local groups and self-help organisations.

Major General Pabawo Subianto

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of their ethical foreign policy, they would designate Major General Pabawo Subianto of Indonesia as a undesirable alien.[HL1971]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary may direct that a person should not be given entry to the United Kingdom on the ground that his exclusion is conducive to the public good. On present information, he does not consider that there is sufficient reason to exclude Major General Subianto in this way.

Mr. Derek Jones

Lord Burton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action has been, or is being, taken and what (if any) charges are being considered by the Metropolitan Police and Customs and Excise against Mr. Derek Jones as a result of his admissions on the Channel 4 programme shown on 19 May 1998, "Undercover Britain Gun Law", concerning:

    (a) removing 0.38/0.357 ammunition from a gun club when not in possession of a firearms certificate;

    (b) removing a 0.44/45 black powder revolver from a gun club without a firearms certificate;

    (c) importing a cap and ball revolver without declaration upon importation;

    (d) failing to comply with the ports by-laws;

    (e) having in his possession a revolver without an appropriate certificate of de-activation; and[HL2022]

    What action has been, or is being, taken and what (if any) charges are being considered by the Metropolitan Police and Customs and Excise against Mr. Ray Fitzwalter of Ray Fitzwalter Associates in connection with the actions of Mr. Derek Jones reported on the Channel 4 programme shown on 19 May 1998, "Undercover Britain Gun law".[HL2023]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Enforcement of the law is an operational matter for the police and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise. I understand that investigations are currently being carried out by both the police and HM Customs in the light of the Channel 4 programme. It will be for the police and HM Customs to decide whether any criminal charges are justified once those investigations are complete.

3 Jun 1998 : Column WA41

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page