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Ms Kelly: Up to a point, you have dealt with the remarks that I was going to make. However, does the logic of what you have said--

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): Order. I must remind the hon. Lady, for future reference, to use the correct parliamentary terminology.

Ms Kelly: I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall try to remember to do so.

Does the logic of what my hon. Friend has just said not lead him to the conclusion that the embryo, when grown to term, would constitute a cloned human being if it did not derive its genetic blueprint from two sources?

Dr. Iddon: The embryo would derive its DNA from two sources, but its genetic identity would come from only one source. There is not a scientist in the world who would dispute that fact.

Mr. Leigh: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Dr. Iddon: I should like to continue for a moment, please.

I was interested to read all the information that I have received on this topic, especially the views of the major religions. House of Commons Library research paper No. 93 was published on 12 December 2000. I must compliment the Library: the summary of the debate is excellent. The paper also summarises some of the religious leaders' views. Most of the great religions represented in the report do not totally object to the kind of research covered in the regulations. The objections seem to arise from the difference between the use of embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West has made that plain. However, that is an ethical and moral issue, which hon. Members will have to decide for themselves. I shall support the regulations; others will not.

As well as letters of objection, I have received quite a few letters willing me to vote for the regulations next week, which I shall have no hesitation in doing. I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members will have received the same letter that I have received from a 44-year-old woman in Aberdeenshire who has children aged six and eight.

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She has had Parkinson's disease for five years. It would be fair to her and to millions of others across the world if I quoted from her letter, to do her justice and honour:


That refers to Parkinson's disease.


The birth of sulphonamides in 1938 enabled us to hit the parasites that invade our body. We are still benefiting from the antibiotics and other drugs that resulted from that major advance in medicine. A second phase of drug research produced the group of pharmacodynamic drugs that interfere with processes in our body, such as the work of enzymes. I am convinced that after those two major scientific medical discoveries, we are now entering a new phase of medicine that will tackle the diseases to which we have all referred, including the 50 mitochondrial diseases. We should not pass up the opportunity that that offers us.

I do not believe that the advances will come soon enough for the young woman in Aberdeenshire, and I regret that. I do not think that there will be solutions tomorrow for people with Parkinson's disease and other terrifying degenerative diseases, which I also regret. However, there is hope for their children and grandchildren. Can we miss an opportunity to help them? Can we condemn future generations to suffer as their parents and grandparents suffered? I cannot vote for that. There are risks attached to the research work and its applications, but the potential benefits far exceed the risks. That is why I shall support the Government next week.

1.22 pm

Mr. Jim Dobbin (Heywood and Middleton): It has been fascinating to listen to the contributions and different views of hon. Members, not least that of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South-East (Dr. Iddon), who painted a lucid picture of the flashlight creation of life. It reminded me that I was working in the Royal Oldham hospital when the first test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born. That gave us an idea of the future.

I have a scientific background, although it is not the same as my hon. Friend's. I want medical research so that the scientific and medical worlds make progress and cure all the serious diseases that have been mentioned. Let me declare an interest: I am diabetic, and I have a son-in-law and two grandsons who have a fairly serious congenital neurological muscle disorder. One of my grandsons, who is only four, was on a life support machine last year for four days. The new-born baby has the same genetic pattern. I have a real interest in such research. The hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox) declared that he has not crossed the Rubicon, but neither have I. I always make it clear to everyone in the House and my constituency where I stand on the issue of life. I never hide that.

The Minister claimed that this subject was adequately debated during the passage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, but I have read the debate and not

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much of it was pertinent to cloning. The hon. Member for Richmond Park (Dr. Tonge) commented on the time that has been allocated to discuss this matter. The Government can claim that we have had two five-hour periods on Fridays to debate the matter, but Friday is not always the best day for debate because attendance is not high. That is especially true of this Friday, which follows a Thursday with a one-line Whip. Members migrate to their constituencies because they have other things to do. Embryology raises issues for the public as well as for MPs, so there is a need for more information and for more time to be allocated for further intense debate.

In the debates in 1990, I could find no reference to the cloning technique that will be permitted under the statutory instrument on which we will vote on Tuesday. There were only two references to cloning itself, both of which related to the fact that the law would not allow cloning. One of those statements was made by the then Secretary of State for Health, who on Second Reading assured the House that


He added that such activities


We are now faced with Ministers distinguishing, rightly, between reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning. However, no such differences were discussed in 1990. Moreover, the Donaldson committee, having found a loophole in the law, referred persistently to cell nuclear transfer, which has already been mentioned several times today. To put it baldly, that is the same cloning technique as was used to produce Dolly the sheep--a technique not even thought of in 1990.

There are obvious similarities between the two campaigns. In 2000, as in 1990, hon. Members received material from groups, including charities, promising that if only scientists were allowed to use the human embryo in experiments, cures would be developed for all manner of genetic diseases and disorders. In 1990, of course, Parliament gave in and agreed to that research.

Now we discover that although there have certainly been advances in treatment for a number of tragic genetic disorders, they have all come from research methods about which there is no ethical dispute. In 1990 politicians argued that there was more than one moral outcome. The same is true now. Curing disease is a moral cause. Increasingly, however, MPs are becoming concerned about whether the end justifies the means, particularly as so many are becoming more worried about precisely what that end is.

In the past week or so, I have been struck by the arguments of hon. Members who do not agree with me at all on life issues. Many of them are asking why, if the matter is so straightforward, there is such haste to change the law and why hon. Members are not allowed to consider the whole issue. I should have preferred the matter to be dealt with through primary legislation, rather than a statutory instrument. We cannot table amendments to such an instrument; we can only vote to accept it or reject it.

In the past few weeks, there has been considerable discussion in the newspapers about the manner in which the Government are supporting the bioscience industry, which has been described as "our £50 billion industry".

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The hon. Member for Richmond Park touched on that. In November, the Prime Minister addressed the European bioscience conference and referred to the great benefits that experiments on embryos could bring to medicine and science. He said:


I am well aware that some hon. Members support that view. Would they continue to do so if they thought that voting for the statutory instrument would allow the manufacture of clones for the purposes of commerce? I mention commerce because I used to deal with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and I know the pressures that they can use.

A few days after the European bioscience conference, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced a 45 per cent. increase in real-terms spending between 1997 and 2004, which as a Labour Back Bencher I certainly applaud. He said something else with which I agree. In referring to the economic benefits of science, he said:


Nobody in the House could disagree with that.

However, my right hon. Friend, too, has referred to the great benefits of embryo research. Will the statutory instrument allow the manufacture of human clones for the great bioscience industry in which we are investing such huge sums? I have heard the Minister comment previously on that, but I should like her to refer to it again today. If any hon. Members are opposed to such development, they should vote against the statutory instrument on Tuesday and instead demand that changes in the law should be made in primary legislation.

During the past year or so, an increasing number of papers have been published on the successful use of adult stem cells. We have heard the debate over the difference between the use of adult stem cells and embryo stem cells, so I shall not go into it; suffice it to say that we should be steering our research more towards use of the former.

To understand why scientists are so anxious to be allowed to use human clones in particular, one must first understand a little about the development of the embryo, about which we have had some debate. No bigger than a full stop, its cell will provide all and every kind of tissue that makes muscle, bone and all organs, so it is a unique piece of life. Embryo cells will proliferate with almost unlimited potential, maintaining a pool of growing and dividing cells, with the added ability that some of the daughter cells can differentiate into specific cell types.

To return to the commercial issue, one hardly needs to be Einstein to recognise the tremendous commercial attraction for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies hoping to be able to obtain and possibly use human clones for their work and products. However much I disagree with colleagues on the issue, I respect them if they say what they want. However, I cannot go along with the thought of Parliament being led into what could be a quagmire without being informed of to what and where we are being led. The Helsinki agreement on medical

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ethics makes it clear that human subjects, including human tissue, should not be used in experiments unless all other avenues have been investigated.

Why is the legislation being hastily pushed through as a statutory instrument? Why are the Government pressurising us to go ahead with that vehicle? Until they are able to answer those and a few more questions, I intend to vote against the regulations on Tuesday.


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