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The guidance has been referred to. All that the clinician has to do currently is take the guidance into account. This guidance, which has been in existence for some time under the present Administration, seems to me to express that in a very cogent and practical way. Like the noble Lord, Lord Warner, I prefer the amendment that leaves things as they are. In the mean time, I will certainly consider supporting Amendment No. 108A.

Baroness Barker: My Lords, at this late stage I rise simply to make a few points which have not yet been made in the debate. The only issue that matters is what is in the best interests of children. In determining that, many of us rely not only on our own experience but on the available research. In-so-far as people have quoted it extensively, the fatherhood bibliography produced by Christian Action Research and Education has been a very successful piece of propaganda. It is a very selective document which moulds together peer-reviewed research, grey research and opinion. As a piece of propaganda it has been effective; it has set up precisely the debate that the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York talked about. It has led us to believe that we are talking about conflicting rights, when we are not.

I do not believe that any heterosexual couples will be denied IVF treatment as a result of the Government’s proposals. I do not believe that there will be fewer children born with fathers as a result of IVF. We are talking about recognising the truth of modern-day life, as my noble friend Lord Carlile said so eloquently. If as the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, said in her opening remarks, her amendment, in its intended simplicity, is taken to mean that treatment will not be given unless there is a father and mother, then, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis of Heigham, said, people will be reduced to trying to find a way either of circumventing the law or of presenting themselves in an untrue fashion. What the Government’s amendment attempts to do is recognise a factor that has so far not been mentioned to any great extent—that all children benefit from stability and security in their upbringing. The Government’s amendments attempt to enable people who intend to become parents to become good parents, and to do so from the start by presenting themselves honestly for treatment.

I have to ask those who have presented these amendments two questions which I have asked at every stage of the Bill but to which I have not yet had an answer. They are questions that have to be answered before we consider these amendments any further. We are told that the passage of these amendments is likely to mean that people will seek to go abroad to clinics that exist on the edges of the law, or that they will simply make private arrangements. Each course of action contains within it a degree of risk not only to the mother but to the health of the child. If the

21 Jan 2008 : Column 83

proposals would also have the effect of dehumanising the donors, to use the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, then I would ask whether that is the effect that the movers of the amendments wish—or are they seeking to put forward a set of proposals that would be wholly counterproductive, as I believe they would be?

My final point has not been made by anybody else in this debate. The noble Baroness, Lady Deech, quite rightly set us off on our discussions this afternoon by talking about the importance of principle. Part of principle is precedent in law. I ask noble Lords whether they have appreciated the fact that, in trying to establish a principle—which is what the noble Baroness is trying to do, and for good reasons—it is just possible that we may set a precedent of denying a person health treatment? This would not be on the basis of their need, or the way they present themselves as a patient, or even the way they behave, but because they are a member of a minority group within our population. That is a dangerous principle and a dangerous precedent—one that I would not wish this House to set in law.

Lord Patten: My Lords, I reflected as I listened to the speech by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York, how right he was to say that we seem to live in a world where one set of human rights suddenly comes forward to trump another set of perceived human rights. That will cause us great difficulty, going forward. Equally, in the moving and challenging speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alli, who was, as always, stalwart against discrimination, I reflected that, sometimes, as one becomes more vigorous against discrimination in one direction, one can just see incipient discrimination coming from another quarter. That is the only point I wish to make; I shall not be repeating any of the remarks that I made in Committee—not one jot, nor one iota.

It seems to me that the Government, either by design or well-meaning accident, are now busy deconstructing the meaning of fatherhood. That is where incipient anti-father prejudice could well be creeping in. This flies in the face of the attempts by the Government, which I support and to which I pay tribute, to encourage fathers to pay maintenance, to take paternity leave, and to continue contact with their children after divorce, if that should happen.

This approach also flies in the face of the principle of non-discrimination. Here is where I would like the noble Lord, Lord Alli, to think as deeply about what I am saying as I try to think about what he says. By appearing—and appearances matter to the outside world—to be a bit anti-father, and appearing to fail to give proper respect to both sexes, the principle ultimately fails to hold equality of esteem for parenting between the sexes.

I do not know how much time the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister, who inherited this Bill, has to give to its wider and longer social implications. He seems to me as a complete outsider to be an exemplary father, yet his own Government’s legislation in this context is likely, whether by design or because

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of unforeseen and unintended consequences, to lead little by little to the steady deconstruction of the very meaning and importance of the word “father” and thus the reality of fatherhood, and to the incipient devaluation of the role of fatherhood, by the signals that this legislation is giving from this place to the outside world about the meaning of fatherhood.

I simply cannot believe—as I predict will be seen—that the country at large supports the removal of the need for a father. That removal sends a clear signal to men that the Government ultimately do not value the unique role of fathers in a child’s life, let alone the message that the Government wish to promote legislation that might turn out to be seen by later generations as discriminatory against men.

8 pm

Lord Selsdon: My Lords, I do not intend to regale your Lordships with my study of the parenting of a range of mammals; I simply wish to make a logical suggestion. If we accepted the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, who is one of my colleagues on the committee, and added to it “and/or supportive parenting”, we would solve the problem.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, I rise in the briefest of contributions to support the Government. In many debates we have made a plea for honesty about genetics and what we do. The amendment simply tidies up and makes this legislation compatible with the most honest of today’s practices. If we do not allow that, two things may well happen. The Government are changing the burden of proof on doctors, probably from the criminal standard to the civil. I fear that there will be gold-plating by clinics. They will say, “It’s on the face of the Bill that we cannot treat you if you do not have your one man in tow”. We will go back to the days of men being dragged into clinics—perhaps for money—and pretending that they are in a supportive and loving relationship.

I would also caution your Lordships that it is not honest to transpose the research from broken families and the outcomes for their children on to the outcomes for children who are conceived through an infertility clinic after incredibly careful consideration by people who are desperate to give the very best upbringing possible to those children and who have invested a huge amount even before they conceive. That is completely different from unplanned pregnancies and broken relationships where the father has been abusive or whatever. I therefore make a plea to your Lordships that, if we are to be honest, this is the only amendment that we can pass. Other bits can go in guidance and can be helpful, but the Bill has to reflect what is actually happening today, not turn the clock back and force people to be dishonest.

Lord Darzi of Denham: My Lords, let me say at the outset that the amendment and our proposals are not motivated by any attack on fathers or the concept of fatherhood, as I clearly outlined in Committee. The Government recognise very clearly the extremely important role that fathers can and do play in their children’s lives, and the consequences that can follow

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when relationships break down. There is no requirement in the law as it stands that there must be a father or any man involved in the upbringing of a child. The outcome intended here is to change the law, as was eloquently described just now. We need to ensure that we have a clear and transparent law. There should, as my noble friend said, be no pressure on clinicians such as me. We may be good at interpreting science within a framework of regulation, not a law which is not transparent and meaningless. That point was eloquently raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, who said that the law was “ineffective” and “wishy-washy”.

Nor do I support the concept of back-street impregnation which we heard about earlier or perverse incentives in relation to this unclear law. The Government have put huge effort into finding the right words and being as transparent as possible. We strongly believe that it is the quality of parenting and not the gender of parents that counts. The amendment is for supportive parenting. Amendment No. 108A, which would put the words

in the Bill, would place an additional hurdle, as we have heard throughout the debate.

I conclude on Amendment No. 110 on what might go into the code of practice. We would not accept such wording in the guidance for the same reasons that we will not accept it in the legislation. Therefore, it is the Government’s conclusion that they will not support the amendments to the government amendments.

Baroness Deech: My Lords, I shall respond briefly. I am motivated by the fact, of which I am pretty sure, that the public wish us to put some ethical underpinning to the enormous leap forward in science. As for statements by noble and learned Lords about human rights, I point out that we will be in a minority in Europe if we change the law in the way that the Government wish. I point out also that “private life” and particularly “family life” have been interpreted as something that is already in existence. There is no human right to have a baby. The only body that is in danger of discrimination is the National Health Service.

The Government must regret ever having started along the line of amending Section 13, which works so well, because they have opened up a hornets’ nest. It was allowing more and more single and lesbian women to access treatment with no problem at all. Whichever way the House goes tonight, the decision is likely to upset members of the public and to devalue fathering. Unlicensed sperm donation on the side has been going on and I am sure that it will continue. But we should remember that whichever amendment we go for, it will be only one of the factors that the clinician has to consider.

Every civilised country draws lines about the circumstances in which it is right to reproduce. I have not heard any noble Lord argue today that, for example, it is a breach of human rights to refuse IVF to a 14 year-old or to refuse it to two twins—echoing a case in the newspapers recently. We know that there is an element of discretion and that there are certain underlying values and structures which are largely worthy of consideration. The same applies to the presence of a

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mother and father. Indeed, in one judgment, the House of Lords took note of the difference between biological and same-sex parenting and preferred to give custody to the biological mother.

The trouble with the amendments is that they are predictive, but we cannot predict good or supportive parenting. There are hundreds of thousands of divorces in this country which all started with two would-be parents promising to live together forever and making commitments to bring up their children. We know that one cannot predict and that breakdown happens. This is not something that clinicians, or anybody else, can lay down rules about and perceive. That being the case, and because I passionately believe that the advances in science need to be acceptable to the public, I would like to test the opinion of the House on this amendment.

Lord Northbourne: My Lords, I believe I am right in thinking that I have to withdraw—or not withdraw—my amendments before this amendment.

Noble Lords: No!

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, the noble Baroness is correct in seeking to test the opinion of the House at this stage.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Geddes): My Lords, before putting the Question regarding Amendment No. 108A, I remind noble Lords that if it is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 108C due to pre-emption.

8.10 pm

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 108A) shall be agreed to?

*Their Lordships divided: Contents, 93; Not-Contents, 165.


Division No. 3


CONTENTS

Ahmed, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Armstrong of Ilminster, L.
Attlee, E.
Bew, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blaker, L.
Boothroyd, B.
Bridgeman, V. [Teller]
Bridges, L.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Browne of Belmont, L.
Butler-Sloss, B. [Teller]
Cathcart, E.
Chester, Bp.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Dearing, L.
Deech, B.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donoughue, L.
Eccles, V.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Glentoran, L.
Greenway, L.
Hastings of Scarisbrick, L.
Higgins, L.
Hogg, B.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Hylton, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kerr of Kinlochard, L.
Kilclooney, L.
Listowel, E.
Luke, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Maginnis of Drumglass, L.
Manchester, Bp.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mawhinney, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.


21 Jan 2008 : Column 87

Monson, L.
Montrose, D.
Moran, L.
Morris of Bolton, B.
Morris of Yardley, B.
Morrow, L.
Neill of Bladen, L.
Northbourne, L.
Northbrook, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Paisley of St George's, B.
Patten, L.
Pendry, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Powell of Bayswater, L.
Rees of Ludlow, L.
Rowe-Beddoe, L.
St. Albans, Bp.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Seccombe, B.
Selborne, E.
Selsdon, L.
Sheikh, L.
Shephard of Northwold, B.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Tebbit, L.
Tenby, V.
Thatcher, B.
Trenchard, V.
Trimble, L.
Ullswater, V.
Waddington, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walpole, L.
Wilcox, B.
Winchester, Bp.
York, Abp.

NOT CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Adams of Craigielea, B.
Addington, L.
Adonis, L.
Alli, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B. [Lord President.]
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Best, L.
Bilston, L.
Blackstone, B.
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.
Borrie, L.
Boyd of Duncansby, L.
Bradley, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Cameron of Dillington, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carter of Coles, L.
Chidgey, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Colwyn, L.
Corston, B.
Craig of Radley, L.
Craigavon, V.
Crawley, B.
Crisp, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Darzi of Denham, L.
Davidson of Glen Clova, L.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Desai, L.
D'Souza, B.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falkland, V.
Falkner of Margravine, B.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Fearn, L.
Finlay of Llandaff, B.
Ford, B.
Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.
Gale, B.
Golding, B.
Goodhart, L.
Gould of Brookwood, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Griffiths of Burry Port, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hamwee, B.
Harries of Pentregarth, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haworth, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Breckland, B.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Jones of Cheltenham, L.
Jones of Whitchurch, B.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Leitch, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McDonagh, B.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Maddock, B.
Malloch-Brown, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Maxton, L.
Meacher, B.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Moonie, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morris of Handsworth, L.
Murphy, B.
Neuberger, B.
Newby, L.


21 Jan 2008 : Column 88

Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel, L.
Patel of Bradford, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Pitkeathley, B.
Prosser, B.
Quin, B.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Razzall, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rooker, L.
Roper, L.
Rosser, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Sawyer, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sewel, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Smith of Finsbury, L.
Snape, L.
Soley, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Sutherland of Houndwood, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Teverson, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tonge, B.
Tordoff, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Tyler, L.
Vadera, B.
Wall of New Barnet, B.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Wallace of Tankerness, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walton of Detchant, L.
Warnock, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
West of Spithead, L.
Whitaker, B.
Wilkins, B.
Winston, L.
Young of Hornsey, B.
Young of Norwood Green, L.

[*See col. 103]

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

[Amendments Nos. 108B and 108C, as amendments to Amendment No. 108, not moved.]

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, before putting the Question on Amendment No. 108, I remind noble Lords that if it is agreed to I cannot call Amendments Nos. 109 to 110A inclusive because of pre-emption.

On Question, Amendment No. 108 agreed to.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I should inform noble Lords that dinner-time business has been postponed. We shall now move directly to the Statement. I suggest that Report stage begin again not before 9.25 pm.

Northern Rock

8.25 pm

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Statement is as follows:

“With your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on Northern Rock. The House will understand that it was necessary to issue a statement to the markets with our proposals before the start of trading this morning in the usual way. Copies of that statement and the accompanying Treasury press release are available in the Vote Office.


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