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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill - House of Lords Report Stage

Tuesday 15th January 2008

The Archbishop attended the first day in the House of Lords of the Report Stage of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. He spoke during the debate on a government amendment to change the name of 'inter-species' embryos to 'human-admixed' embryos.

In doing so, he joined many Peers, including Lord Alton and Lord Tebbit who had expressed concerns about embryo research involving the mixing of human and animal elements. Throughout the passage of the Bill, concerns on this issue and others relating to 'saviour siblings', the impact on fatherhood and the need for a National Commission on Bioethics, had been raised many times by the Lords Spiritual.

Transcript of the Archbishop's intervention:

My Lords, I begin by apologising to the House for the fact that I am obliged to leave the Chamber before five o'clock this afternoon. I want just to echo some of the anxieties that have been raised in the past few minutes. I share entirely the unease of the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, about the phrase, "the human end of the spectrum", which seems to introduce a very unhelpful element of uncertainty. Given that some of the major moral reservations around this Bill, which have been expressed broadly both in the country and in your Lordships' House, pivot upon the concern that this is legislation which is gradually but inexorably moving towards a more instrumental view of how we may treat human organisms, any lack of clarity in this area seems fatally compromising and ambiguous. I hope that we can have some further clarity in this afternoon's discussion.

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