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Whether any of the members of the Human Genetics Advisory Commission Working Party have recommended the use of human embryos in cloning; and [HL274]
Whether any of the members of the Human Genetics Advisory Commission Working Party had made public pronouncements before their appointment in favour of experiments which destroy human embryos; if so, what they were; and whether any of the members were known in advance to be against such experiments; and [HL273]
Whether any of the members of the Human Genetics Advisory Commission Working Party have pecuniary interests in, or direct financial links with, the pharmaceutical and bio-technology industries, and, if so, what they are.[HL275]
The members of this joint sub-group were nominated by the HFEA and the HGAC on the basis of their relevant knowledge and experience. Appointments to these bodies are made in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments guidelines. The report states that one of the members of the sub-group is employed in the pharmaceutical industry.
"We regard the deliberate cloning of human individuals as ethically unacceptable . . . However, we need to consider carefully whether a total ban on cloning techniques could affect valuable research that does not involve cloning of individuals".
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 expressly prohibits nuclear replacement of a cell of an embryo. Other forms of cloning cannot take place because the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has decided that it will not license any treatment involving such techniques or any research to develop cloning for human reproductive purposes.
A joint Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Human Genetics Advisory Commission Report to Ministers on Cloning Issues in Reproduction, Science and Medicine was published on Tuesday 8 December. The report recommends that the safeguards in place are recognised as being wholly adequate to prevent human reproductive cloning, but suggested that the Government may wish to consider the possibility of legislation explicitly banning reproductive cloning regardless of the technique used, as a clear public statement on reproductive cloning in the UK. It also recommends that changes be considered to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which strictly regulates the use of human embryos in research, to provide two further purposes for which research may be undertaken. These would permit research into mitochondrial diseases as well as treatment for diseased or damaged tissues or organs. We will consider the report carefully before responding to it in the new year.
Lord Carter: My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food represented the United Kingdom at a meeting of the European Union Agriculture Council in Brussels on 14 and 15 December.
The Council agreed by qualified majority (Belgium, Spain and Portugal abstaining) a Commission proposal to ban the use of four antibiotics in animal feed as from 30 June 1999. My right honourable friend welcomed the proposal as an appropriate response to advice, including from our own specialist scientific committees, that the use of antimicrobial growth promoters which may impair the efficacy of antibiotics used in human medicines should be phased out. He also welcomed the Council's statement stressing the need for an overall science-based approach to the issue of antibiotic resistance and calling for the Commission to submit a further report on the question of third country compliance with equivalent rules.
The Council also agreed by qualified majority (Italy and the Netherlands opposing, Portugal abstaining) two regulations establishing new agrimonetary arrangements to apply following introduction of the Single Currency on 1 January 1999. My right honourable friend supported these measures which will greatly simplify the agrimonetary system while reducing its costs and making it easier to operate. He was particularly pleased to secure provision that the impact of the ending of the freeze on green rates on 1 January, which benefited our farmers more than any other member state's, will be subject to a gradual transition over three years.
The Council reached unanimous political agreement on a proposal to send food aid to Russia, targeted towards regions most in need. My right honourable friend particularly welcomed this important gesture of EU solidarity with the Russian people.
A discussion of the Commission's proposal for reform of the wine regime concluded with agreement that final decisions should be taken in the context of the Agenda 2000 CAP reforms in the early part of next year. The Commission debated a proposal to establish
A package of proposals concerning the marketing of seeds was adopted by qualified majority (Denmark voting against). Council resolution on an EU forestry strategy was agreed unanimously, as was a decision approving a national aid to certain Greek co-operatives. The Commission also adopted unanimously a further postponement of the implementation of the 1997 Decision on Specified Risk Materials and a short deferral of implementation of new intra-Community health rules on trade in cattle and pigs.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): A reply was sent to my noble friend on 16 December including an apology for the delay and the lack of communication with him while detailed inquiries were made into the specific case he raised.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We welcome and support the agreements between the Brazilian Government and the international community to restore confidence in the Brazilian economy. The UK's role in furthering this objective is explained in the written statement laid before both Houses today, pursuant to the International Monetary Arrangements Act 1983.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Thirty-eight files are held at the Public Record Office for release under the terms of the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967, the 30-year rule applying:
In the absence of a thematic index of files stored in MoD's archives the identification of files has, of necessity, been limited to those created by the Air Staff Secretariat and predecessor branches. The following files have been identified and are earmarked for review by MoD at future dates, at which point they will be assessed for their suitability for preservation at the PRO. It is possible that some files created by other Headquarters divisions or establishments may contain papers on this topic. These could only be identified at disproportionate cost: