No. 30 - Session 2003-2004  30 March 2004


Human Reproductive Technologies And The Law

The Science and Technology Committee announces the following terms of reference for its inquiry into Human Reproductive Technologies and the Law. These were drawn up after analysing a report of the online consultation produced by the Hansard Society:

1. To consider a) the balance between legislation, regulation and reproductive freedom; b) the role of Parliament in the area of human reproductive technologies; and c) the foundation, adequacy and appropriateness of the ethical framework for legislation on reproductive technologies.

2. To consider the provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 in the context of other national and international legislation and regulation of medical practice and research

To include related legislation such as the EU human tissue directive, and law covering human rights, surrogacy, adoption and abortion.

To include relevant declarations and statements by international bodies.

To compare the safety and welfare provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 with those that cover other areas of medical practice.

3. To consider the challenges to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 from a) the development of new technologies for research and treatment, and their ethical and societal implications and b) recent changes in ethical and societal attitudes.

To include new areas of research, treatments and  interventions, such as cloning, cell nuclear transfer, transplants of ovarian and testicular tissue, embryo splitting, selection of genetic characteristics (including sex selection), stem cell therapy and the use of  immature gametes.

4. To consider the composition, expertise and approach of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, its code of practice, licensing arrangements and the provision of information to patients, the profession and the public.

Chairman of the Committee Dr Ian Gibson said, "Our online consultation has given us a strong steer. The next step is to hammer out these issues in more detail. There are some difficult and sensitive issues to deal with, but we shall tackle them head on".

The Committee invites submissions of evidence based on these terms of reference from any interested individuals or groups. The deadline is 26 May 2004. The programme of oral evidence will begin in June 2004. Details will be announced nearer the time.

The Hansard Society Report on the online consultation can be viewed at

Guidelines for the submission of evidence

Evidence should be submitted in Word or WordPerfect formats, and should be sent by e-mail to The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions should be as brief as possible, and certainly no more than 3,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document should include a brief executive summary. Those submitting evidence are reminded that evidence should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted no public use should be made of it, but those wishing to publish their evidence before it is published by the Committee are invited to contact the Clerk of the Committee to obtain permission to do so.

Further information on the work of the Committee can be obtained from Committee staff on

020 7219 2793/4. Previous press notices and publications are available on our website.

Notes for Editors

1. Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152 the Committee is empowered to examine the "expenditure, policy and administration of the Office of Science and Technology and its associated public bodies". The Committee was appointed on 12 November 2001.

2. The Committee's Inquiry into Human Reproductive Technologies and the Law was announced on 24 October 2003, press notice no. 45, session 2002-03.

3. The Committee's online consultation ran from 22 January to 15 March 2004 at It was managed by the Hansard Society, an independent organisation established to promote effective parliamentary democracy. The Hansard Society's Edemocracy Programme has pioneered methods of Parliamentary online discussion enabling citizens to feed their views and experiences into parliamentary discussion.