Feeds

Religious MPs get free vote on hybrid embryos

Brown compromises following Church pressure

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

An Easter of intense religious lobbying has forced Gordon Brown to allow a free vote on whether the law should be changed to allow new research on embryos and stem cells.

The Catholic Church used its louder voice at this time of year to launch a co-ordinated campaign against the new fertilisation and embryology bill, particularly hybrid embryos, which it described as "monstrous". The presence in the Cabinet of hardline Christians such as transport secretary Ruth Kelly threatened an embarrassing split over the ethics of stem cell research.

Downing Street now says Labour MPs will be allowed to vote with their personal conscience on three aspects of the proposed legislation. The free votes in will cover relaxing IVF research rules, allowing hybrid embryos and so-called "saviour siblings" (parents could select an embryo with compatible bone marrow to help an existing sick child, for example).

The Prime Minister said that if the Commons votes in favour of the three strands then all Labour MPs will then be expected to approve the bill in its entirety.

Scientists argue that the new legislation is needed to advance treatments for a raft of conditions including Parkinson's and spinal injury. It's hoped that hybrid embryos will provide a ready supply of stem cells that are more than 99 per cent human, yet do not rely on the trickle of human eggs left over from IVF treatment.

Hybrids are created by injecting human DNA into empty animal eggs, usually sourced from cows. The bill would insist that embryos are destroyed.

Speaking at the launch of Labour's local government election campaign, Brown said: "I do believe that in stem cell research we have the power in the future to treat and to cure some of the diseases that have afflicted mankind for centuries."

"The bill itself cannot be subject to a free vote because there are so many other changes that I believe are necessary as part of building up the research framework of our country and, of course, creating the right ethical framework for the development of embryo research."

A letter signed by 200 medical charities has been sent to every MP explaining why they believe the new regulations are necessary. In January the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority approved the first experiments on hybrids under existing legislation. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.