The HFEA and HTA are going to be debated again on Monday

Posted on May 4, 2011 by

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The public bodies bill, the bill the government has introduced to give them the power to reorganise the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) hits third reading in the Lords on Monday and there are a few amendments down on the HFEA and HTA. This will be the bills final discussion in the Lords for a while –  it will then head over to the Commons, coming back once they have scrutinised it.

Background

The government has introduced the  Public Bodies Bill to create a legal framework to enable them to make changes to quangos, modifying their constitutions, funding arrangements or transferring their functions elsewhere, without opening up the original Act that created them. This includes the research regulators – the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), from which the government proposed to to create a single regulator of research in their review of Department of Health arm’s length bodies published back in the summer.

For more background and a summary of previous discussions on the reorganisation of the HFEA and HTA – check out my earlier blog.

What do the amendments say?

The amendments have been tabled by Baroness Deech and aim to add a couple of conditions which the government would have to meet before using the powers in the bill to reorganise the HFEA and HTA. The Health Research Regulatory Agency must be up and running and ready to take over the research regulation functions of the HFEA and HTA, and the agency must have an ethics committee to look at the ethical issues such research might raise.

AMENDMENT
TO BE MOVED
ON THIRD READING

Schedule 5
BARONESS DEECH
LORD HARRIES OF PENTREGARTH
LORD WARNER
BARONESS WARWICK OF UNDERCLIFFE
Page 22, line 11, at end insert—

“2 Before an order is made under section 5(1) to modify or transfer any of the functions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority or the Human Tissue Authority—

(a) the Minister must have established a new independent health research agency to be responsible for the regulation of health research, which will assume any of the functions currently undertaken by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority; and

(b) that agency must have a separate ethics committee to undertake the ethical consideration functions transferred from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority.”

And there are a couple more dealing with the cost-effectiveness of changes to the HFEA and HTA – saying basically that if moving their functions about would increase costs, it shouldn’t be done.

Schedule 5
BARONESS DEECH
LORD HARRIES OF PENTREGARTH
Page 22, line 11, at end insert—

“2 An order may not be made in respect of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority or the Human Tissue Authority unless an independent assessment indicates that making such an order under section 5(1) would increase the cost-effectiveness of the functions exercised by that Authority.”

LORD HARRIES OF PENTREGARTH
BARONESS DEECH
Page 22, line 11, at end insert—

“2 An order may not be made in respect of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority or the Human Tissue Authority unless the impact assessment and consultation indicates that making such an order under section 5(1) would increase the cost-effectiveness of the functions exercised by that Authority.”

What next?

This is due to be debated next Monday, 9 May. The timetable is here. There is still time for further amendments to be tabled. We’ll have to wait and see how the Minister responds and whether any of these amendments are pushed to a vote..

Posted in: Policy