HC Deb 01 July 1986 vol 100 cc810-1
8. Mr. Peter Bruinvels

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has any plans to introduce further legislation extending the controls over commercial surrogacy arrangements.

The Minister for Health (Mr. Barney Hayhoe)

I am keeping the need for amending legislation to the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 under review.

Mr. Bruinvels

Will my right hon. Friend condemn tine vile practice of surrogacy and womb leasing arrangements which are reported still to be occurring even with the Reproductive Freedom International Organisation run by Miss Lorrien Finley? Surely any kind of womb leasing for financial gain is contrary to the law and the spirit of the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985. Should not people involved in that practice be prosecuted? Is it not a privilege to have children? People should not play on the emotions of others and make financial gain, which is contrary to the Act.

Mr. Hayhoe

The concern expressed by my hon. Friend would be held by many hon. Members. I have seen the recent reports, and I understand that there has been a police investigation into that particular case, and the Department of Public Prosecutions is considering the report.

Mr. Allan Roberts

Will the Minister congratulate the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels) on accepting and recognising that there is a limit to how and where the free market should operate and that morality is more important than the policies of greed and monetarism? Will he ask his hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East to accept that the same principle should apply across the board in relation to the Health Service and social services and accept that morality does comes before profit in the Health Service and the social services?

Mr. Hayhoe

Of course morality comes before profit in the Health Service.

No one who heard the exchanges earlier between my right hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) on this matter could have failed to hear my right hon. Friend make it abundantly clear that increased resources have been allocated to the National Health Service. That is a clear indication of the Government's priorities.

Mr. Stokes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that most people absolutely loathe commercial surrogacy and expect the Government to act quickly and not simply have the matter under review?

Mr. Hayhoe

Commercial surrogacy was dealt with in the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985. The suggestion now made is that the individual concerned may be falling foul of the Act, in which case no doubt the DPP will take the necessary action. We are considering whether there is a need to amend legislation to take account of these practices, which would not be illegal under the terms of the 1985 Act.

Mr. Dalyell

In the mouths of Ministers of all Governments the phrase "under review" has many parliamentary meanings. Can we expect any end product to this particular review?

Mr. Hayhoe

I am well aware of the hon. Gentleman's ingenuity in terms of parliamentary language. Certainly when I say that the matter is under review, I mean that it is under review.

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