by Cristina Odone THE Government has decided to postpone any legislation to control embryo research or to implement any of the other key recommendations of the Warnock report until the next Parliament, the Commons was told last week.
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) announced its "regret" over the delay, in a statement released on Monday. SPUC Campaign Coordinator Christopher Whitehouse urged this week that the Government "act as soon as possible."
Despite the SPUC concern over the Government shelving of the controversial issue linked to the Warnock Report, Mr Whitehouse welcomed the decision to allow a free vote on the issues.
Health Minister Tony Newton fuelled the debate over the research on human embryos by announcing the forthcoming publication of a consultation document before the end of this year. The report will invite further views on the Warnock Report, which was written two years ago, and recommends that research should be allowed on human embryos which were up to 14 days old.
Catholic MP Kenneth Hargreaves warned the Government in a public statement that it would not be allowed to keep the matter on the shelf until after a General Election. Mr Hargreaves stressed that support for legislation outlawing the use of embryos for research had been "almost without precedent" in Parliament.
Mr Hargreaves' own Ten Minute-Rule Unborn Children (Protection) Bill had received a majority of votes (229 to 129) when it was debated two months ago. The last time MPs debated the issue of embryo research, however, the outcome had been a tactical defeat for those who favour the banning of research experiments with Enoch Powell's Private Members' bill talked out.
Mr Whitehouse pledged this week to continue to bring pressure to bear upon MPs with regards to the issue of embryo research, until the next Parliament. He also claimed that the 30,000 member SPUC commands "massive support among Conservative Party prospective parliamentary candidates for its views.
The claim came in the wake of Monday's publication of the results of a major poll in which the Society wrote to every selected PPC to ask their views upon the issue: 84 per cent, according to the poll, would "vote in Parliament for a ban on experiments performed upon living human embryos from conception onwards."
• LIFE has also welcomed the decision to allow a free vote on any future legislation on the Warnock report, but has once again urged that a select committee of the House of Commons be set up to review the issues involved.