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I wonder whether there is a common agreement among government departments. There appears to be a divergence of view among the various bodies--GMC, PHLS, and the cancer registries. I believe that the Data Protection Commissioner has a rather different view. In order to clear up the confusion there needs to be hard discussion between the parties involved because this mixture of legal and ethical makes the matter so very difficult. Without a clear legal statement, which I intended to give in the amendment, I do not believe that many parties involved, particularly the Data Protection Commissioner and the GMC, will agree that the ethical considerations are overridden.
The Minister may have felt that the absence of a comma in the amendment was a problem. I agree that the amendment is defective by the absence of a comma, which should have appeared after the term "medical research". If we had had one more day of Report stage he would have noticed the insertion of a comma. I understand why officials may have thought the amendment defective.
I do not believe that many of those who look at the provisions are absolutely clear that medical research covers the situation. I believe that there is considerable confusion. I believe that conflicting noises are coming out of the various ministries and bodies involved in the debate. Meetings are currently taking place. I believe that it is in the power of the Government to clarify the situation very quickly, but it really has to be done at Third Reading.
I very much hope that, with the few days that we have, the Minister will reconsider the situation. I do not intend to press the amendment tonight. But I believe that we are nowhere near clarity. I shall read the Minster's remarks very carefully to see whether or not there is any clarity, but I do not believe that what he has said will be of any great comfort to those concerned. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
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