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1. Proceedings on Second Reading, in Committee, on Consideration and on Third Reading shall be completed at today's sitting and shall be brought to a conclusion, if not previously concluded, at Seven o'clock.

Questions to be put

2. When the Bill has been read a second time—
(a) it shall, notwithstanding Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of Bills), stand committed to a Committee of the whole House without any Question being put,
(b) the Speaker shall leave the Chair whether or not notice of an Instruction has been given.
3. On the conclusion of proceedings in Committee the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question and, if the Bill is reported with amendments, the House shall proceed to consider the Bill as amended without any Question being put.
4. For the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph 1 the Speaker or Chairman shall forthwith put the following Questions (but no others)—
(a) any Question already proposed from the Chair;
(b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed;
(c) the Question on any Amendment moved or Motion made by a Minister of the Crown;
(d) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded.
5. On a Motion so made for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chairman or Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.

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6. Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to proceedings on the Bill at today's sitting.
7. The proceedings on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion one hour after commencement, and Standing Order No. 15(1) shall apply to those proceedings.
8. Standing Order No. 82 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to proceedings on the Bill.
9. No Motion shall be made to alter the order in which any proceedings on the Bill are taken.
10. No dilatory Motion shall be made in relation to the Bill except by a Minister of the Crown.
11. No debate shall be permitted on any Motion to recommit the Bill (whether as a whole or otherwise) and the Speaker shall put forthwith any Question necessary to dispose of the Motion, including the Question on any amendment moved to the Question.
12. If at today's sitting a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 24 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) stands over to Four o'clock and proceedings on the Bill have begun before that time, the Motion for the Adjournment shall stand over until the conclusion of proceedings on the Bill.
13. If the House is adjourned at today's sitting, or the sitting is suspended, before the conclusion of proceedings on the Bill, no notice shall be required of a Motion made at the next sitting by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.

Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. During his pre-Budget statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer made much of the report by Mr. Derek Wanless, especially its comments about methods of funding the national health service in the future. At a press conference today, Mr. Wanless said that it was "presumptuous and premature" to "bury" other models of paying for health care, such as the use of social insurance to meet accelerating NHS costs. Has the Chancellor sought to clarify the impression that he gave the House and the country earlier this week?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): The Chair has received no such notification, but Ministers will have heard what has been said.

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Orders of the Day

Human Reproductive Cloning Bill[Lords]

Order for Second Reading read.

3.32 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ms Hazel Blears): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

As the House will know, the other place passed the Bill without amendment on Monday.

It might help if I explain some of the terminology at the outset. For the purpose of the debate, "human reproductive cloning" means the creation of a new human being through the use of an embryo that has not been created by fertilisation—that is, by the use of sperm and eggs. Cloning may involve the process of cell nuclear replacement, as described in the report of the chief medical officer's expert group, or it may involve another technique such as parthenogenesis. The Bill deals with reproductive cloning—and reproductive cloning alone.

So-called therapeutic cloning is the use of cloned embryos for research. I shall deal with the background shortly—in particular, I shall refer to the effect of the recent judgment in the High Court—but I shall say now that, although the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 lays down strict rules for the use of embryos in research, as the law stands, as a result of the judgment, those rules apply only to embryos created by fertilisation.

The deliberate approach adopted in the Bill is not to be prescriptive in regard to cloning techniques. This will ensure that the ban that we seek applies to embryos created in any way other than by fertilisation. It will ensure that we include techniques that may currently be considered unachievable or impossible.

Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal): Would the Minister be willing to find a word that is closer to reality than "personalisation"? The trouble with the whole debate is that, in all circumstances, nice comfortable words are used rather than words denoting the reality. The fact is that what is proposed is the banning of something that is unnatural and unacceptable, and which most people find disgraceful. Can we try to use the proper words? "Personalisation" is surely a fabricated term—similar to "termination of pregnancy", which is used in preference to "killing babies".

Ms Blears: I do not think that I have used the word "personalisation". I am trying to be careful, accurate, clear and focused in describing exactly what we are trying to achieve. The Bill is simple and straightforward, and I am attempting to use language that is not capable of misinterpretation.

The Bill's purpose is to ban human reproductive cloning by the placing in a woman of an embryo that has been created in any way other than by fertilisation. The effect is, of course, that only an embryo created by fertilisation may lawfully be placed in a woman. The Bill is short and tightly drawn, in order to meet that aim, and that aim only.

Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion): What consideration has the Minister given to the reproductive cloning of

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human beings outside a woman's body, in vitro, in animals or even—10, 15 or 20 years down the line—in a man's body? The Bill should take such possibilities into account. Is not the Minister merely plugging the gap when the flood is on the horizon?

Ms Blears: Those issues have been raised, and I shall come to them. They are important.

The hon. Gentleman suggests that I am merely plugging a gap. In fact, I am trying to plug a legal loophole. I fully acknowledge the existence of other matters that, if the Government's appeal against the judgment fails, will need to be revisited extensively. I want to record the Government's commitment in this respect: if the appeal fails and a whole area of activity is unregulated, we must clearly ensure that it is properly and rigorously regulated in future. The Bill's purpose is to plug the legal loophole that has arisen as a result of the judgment, and to bring back an arrangement that I think that all Members want—the outlawing of reproductive cloning.

Dr. Liam Fox (Woodspring): The Minister says that clarity is important. One of the main reasons why the Government lost the recent case related to the definition of "embryo". What is the definition of "embryo" for the purposes of the Bill? Is it the same as the definition in the 1990 Act?

Ms Blears: Yes, it is.

The reason for the court judgment was the construction that the judge put on the terms of the statute. He said that he would take a literal construction of the words used: because of the reference to embryos created by fertilisation, embryos created by cell nuclear replacement or, indeed, other methods would not be covered by the regulatory framework in the 1990 Act.

The Bill provides the definition of

We seek to replicate the language used in the 1990 Act, so that confusion is not created by the use of different terms in different pieces of legislation. The framing of the definition in the Bill, however, is intended to bridge a gap that might otherwise exist. The 1990 Act refers to all embryos created by fertilisation; our Bill refers to all embryos created other than by fertilisation. I hope that that will ensure a seamless transition.

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