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History of the HFE Bill

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act came into force in 2008. The Trust was very involved in its development, as can be seen from the timeline below.

The new Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill updates the 1990 Act and covers the regulatory framework for the creation, storage and use of embryos for infertility treatment, teaching and research.




November 2005

Department of Health undertook public consultation and review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990), to which the Trust provided a response.


December 2006

Government produced a White Paper [PDF 880KB] that included, among other things, a proposal to establish Regulatory Authority for Tissue and Embryos (RATE) to replace the Human Tissue Authority and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).


January 2007

Concerns about proposals in the White Paper to prevent the creation of interspecies embryos in research were raised in the media. Mark Walport, Director of the Trust, gave a number of interviews on the issue.


January 2007

House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology announced enquiry on the regulation of hybrid and chimera embryos. The Trust and the MRC provided a joint written response, and Professor Martin Bobrow, a Governor of the Trust and Emeritus Professor of Medical Genetics at the University of Cambridge, gave oral evidence to the Committee on behalf of the Trust (February 2007).


February 2007

Academy of Medical Sciences initiated a study to examine the issues surrounding the creation of interspecies embryos. The working group was chaired by Professor Martin Bobrow. Trust staff sat on the group as observers and provided input into the development of the report.


March 2007

Science and Technology Committee published its report on the ‘Government proposals for the regulation of hybrid and chimera embryos’.


April 2007

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority undertook a public consultation on ‘Hybrids and Chimeras’.


May 2007

House of Lords stem cell debate. The Trust provided briefs to peers for the debate, in conjunction with the MRC and BBSRC.


May 2007

Draft Human Tissue and Embryology Bill published for pre-legislative scrutiny.


May 2007

Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee appointed. The Trust submitted a written response jointly with the MRC.


June 2007

The Academy of Medical Sciences published its report on ‘Inter-species embryos’.


August 2007

The Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee published its report. Many of the key recommendations the Trust had made, including support for inter-species embryos and not introducing proposals for RATE, were supported in the report.


September 2007

HFEA published its report on its consultation on ‘Hybrids and Chimeras’.


October 2007

Government published its response to the Joint Committee Report.


December 2007

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill introduced into the House of Lords. The Bill as introduced does not seek to amend the Human Tissue Act (2007), nor does it propose to introduce RATE, the Government having dropped the latter proposal following widespread objection from the communities it would regulate and the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee.


January 2008

Bill debated in the House of Lords - the Trust, with the Medical Research Council, Academy of Medical Sciences and Royal Society, provided briefings to peers at all stages of the debate.


31 January 2008

Department of Health issued letters to the peers involved in the House of Lords debate noting its position on issues not clarified in the redrafted Bill to be read at third reading.


February 2008

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill passed in the House of Lords.


February 2008

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill introduced in the House of Commons.


19 May 2008

House of Commons vote on four key issues in the Bill: 'human admixed embryos', 'saviour siblings', 'need for a father' and abortion limits. The House of Commons votes in favour of the provisions contained in the Bill regulating the creation of 'human admixed embryos' for research.


5 June

House of Commons Committee commences review of the rest of the provisions in the Bill.


22 October 2008

Report and Third Reading in the House of Commons


13 November 2008

Bill receives Royal Assent

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