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(b) whether it is proposed that there should be any change in those responsibilities after 1 July 1999.[HL2918]
Lord Sewel: The Advocate General for Scotland is a member of Legislation Committee, Queen's Speech and Future Legislation Committee, the Ministerial Committee on Devolution Policy, the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Freedom of Information.
Lord Sewel: When fully staffed, the Legal Secretariat will consist of the Legal Secretary to the Advocate General for Scotland, such other lawyers as required and supporting administrative staff. The Legal Secretariat is based, along with the Advocate General, at Dover House in London, and also has an office in Edinburgh, at present in St. Andrew's House.
Lord Sewel: The Office of the Solicitor to the Advocate General for Scotland, which will be established on 1 July 1999, will be responsible to the Advocate General. It will provide legal services in relation to Scotland to most United Kingdom government departments, including that of the Secretary of State for Scotland, as well as supporting the Advocate General in her functions under the Scotland Act 1998. The office will be entirely separate from that of the Solicitor to the Scottish Executive, although it will share certain support and library facilities.
Lord Sewel: After 1 July there will be a new post of Scottish Parliamentary Counsel (UK). He will be responsible to the Secretary of State for Scotland and will be located in Parliamentary Counsel's office at 36 Whitehall, London.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I understand that Sir David Ramsbotham intends to publish his inspection report on Wormwood Scrubs prison on Monday 28 June. I have arranged for copies of his report to be placed in the Library on publication.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Government's response to the joint Human Genetics Advisory Commission (HGAC) and Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) report, Cloning Issues in Reproduction, Science and Medicine, has today been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Following public consultation, the joint HGAC/HFEA report's recommendations included the proposal that consideration be given to regulations under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 to allow research for therapeutic purposes which involved cloning techniques.
The Government reaffirm their policy that human reproductive cloning is ethically unacceptable and cannot take place in this country. Also, more evidence is needed of the potential benefits to human health before the use of cloning for therapeutic purposes is allowed in research. We recognise that regulations to allow therapeutic research should be very carefully considered. We believe, however, that more evidence is required of the need for such research, its potential benefits and risks and that account should be taken of alternative approaches that might achieve the same ends.
That is why we have asked the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Liam Donaldson, to set up and chair an independent expert advisory group to seek the views of a range of experts, both here and abroad, so we have a clearer idea of the potential benefits of such research for human health. We expect that it will begin work during the summer and report its findings to Ministers early next year.
We welcome the HGAC/HFEA report's recognition that the safeguards currently in place are wholly adequate to prevent human reproductive cloning in the United Kingdom, and that the Government's policy of forbidding this practice received support during the public consultation.
The Government accept the report's recommendations that the adequacy of the safeguards and related issues should be kept under review in order to address public concerns about the rapidity of development in these areas at the cutting edge of science and medicine.
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