Friday, 30 January 2015

I shall be voting in favour of Mitochondrial Donation next Tuesday in the Commons

I shall be voting strongly in favour of the new regulations that allow this ground breaking technique. The debate is to be held on Tuesday afternoon of next week. 
The Government has recently consulted on draft regulations, which would allow new techniques to help prevent mothers passing on serious mitochondrial diseases to their children. 

It is estimated that 1 in 6,500 children are born every year in the UK with a serious mitochondrial DNA disorder. The consultation on proposed new regulations resulted in more than 1,850 responses. Following consideration of these I am informed that the Department of Health has agreed to:

·         Keep the definition of the mitochondrial donation techniques, as they are set out in the draft proposals.
·         Continue with plans that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) would have to be satisfied that there is both a particular risk of mitochondrial abnormality and a significant risk the person will develop a serious illness or condition.
·         The HFEA will consider each application on a case-by-case basis.
·         Only non-identifying information about the mitochondrial donor will be released to people born following mitochondrial donation when they reach age 16.
·         Clarification will be given to the consent requirements around the use and storage of eggs and embryos used in the mitochondrial donation techniques.
·         Further consider the recommendations of an Expert Panel, refine the draft regulations to take account of changes identified during the consultation, and discuss with the HFEA an appropriate approval process.

I strongly support plans to legalise the new technique. It is a major advance in the prevention of this devastating disease, and it will alleviate the suffering of affected families both in Northumberland, and the rest of the UK.

I was pleased to attend and speak in the previous debate on this issue held in September particularly as I recognised how much the issue meant to many of my constituents. I have included below my short speech during that debate for your interest:

Guy Opperman (Hexham, Conservative)
"I support the work to combat this terrible disease, some of which is being pioneered by my local university, Newcastle, and I will be urging the Government to proceed with the trials, but the question is this. The new IVF technique that has been pioneered at Newcastle has proved to be successful in the laboratory, but the current law prevents it from being tested in a clinical trial or used in clinical practice. That is what we need to change. Without those clinical trials, we cannot progress and deal with this terrible disease."

I have also previously written on this subject on my blog, where I address the objections raised by many who oppose this pioneering research. Should you wish to read the piece in full please follow the link below:

My views on this matter are clear: I am in favour of this research as it will greatly alleviate human suffering, and it will not change the DNA which shapes a child’s identity. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 recognises Mitochondrial Donation specifically as an exemption to prohibiting such intervention in the 2008 legislation.