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Hybrid embryo reform defeated

19th May 2008

MPs have voted to keep the current laws which govern the creation of hybrid embryos in place.

Embryo

A cross-party challenge which sought to ban the embryos lost in a free vote, with 336 MPs voting against a ban and 176 voting to impose one.

In another vote, a response to a campaign led by Conservative MP David Burrowes, the attempt to ban the creation of "saviour siblings" lost, with 342 against and 163 for a ban.

Both the current Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron voted against the ban.

Most of the current Conservative shadow cabinet supported the ban, including shadow foreign secretary William Hague and shadow home secretary David Davis.

The vote comes as amendments are made as part of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. MPs will also vote on whether or not to decrease the time limit allowed for abortions.

Ex-minister Edward Leigh, who headed up the challenge against the embryos, said they were "ethically wrong and almost certainly medically useless".

He argued that there was "no evidence yet to substantiate" the idea that the hybrid embryos could pioneer new treatment for diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Mr Leigh said: "We do not believe that regulation is enough. We believe this is a step too far and therefore should be banned."

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo says any research done using human embryos "must satisfy the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority that it was necessary or desirable".

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