Olive Branch to Peers as Anti-Cloning Mood Grows

Daily Mail (London), January 23, 2001 | Go to article overview

Olive Branch to Peers as Anti-Cloning Mood Grows


Byline: JOHN DEANS

PEERS were offered an 11th hour concession last night as they threatened to block plans to allow human embryos to be cloned for medical research.

Faced with mounting opposition in the Lords from those who regard it as a step towards cloning human beings, Health Minister Lord Hunt promised fresh laws to reinforce the existing ban on reproductive cloning.

He also backed a plan to set up a special committee of peers to monitor and review the development of scientific research and experimentation on stem cells.

His intervention came as peers from all parties and religious leaders lined up to accuse the Government of trying to rush through the plans despite the huge ethical and medical implications.It also came as supporters argued with equal passion for them to go ahead without delay.

They were being asked to back new regulations which would legalise the testing of stem cells - 'therapeutic cloning'. Experts claim this could bring a possible breakthrough in the battle against diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, MS, diabetes, strokes and cancer.

Last month in a free vote MPs came out by more than two to one in favour of relaxing the rules to allow scientists to create and experiment on embryos up to 14 days old.

But last night Baroness Warnock, who chaired the original 1980s inquiry into human fertilisation - and accepts the case for research on cloned embryos - said the Government was going too far too fast.

She told a packed Upper House: 'The word cloning sends shivers of horror down the spines of the British public.

'The fear is that there will be no serious monitoring of research, that we will rush down the slope to the cloning of the whole human being.' To cheers she attacked the way the Government was seeking to rush through regulations without full debate. …

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