Valerie calls for expert health and equalities bodies to be saved from quango cull

Valerie Vaz, MP for Walsall South and member of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, yesterday criticised the Government’s inclusion of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in the Public Bodies Bill.


Valerie Vaz MP said:


“The HFEA is an internationally recognized brand. It is widely consulted on its services and it provides information on fertility procedures, acting as a regulator for the treatment of infertility and use of embryos. Chaired by Professor Lisa Jardine, it has a world-class reputation for its specialised expertise in the medically and ethically sensitive areas of embryology and fertility treatments; other countries look to the HFEA as a model of good governance and good practice.  Losing this accountability, expertise and brand name threatens the future of groundbreaking and ethically responsible research, policy-making and regulation in the UK.


The Government has proposed that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) could take on the regulatory functions of the HFEA.  But on September 14 the Commons Health Select Committee published a report highly critical of the CQC.  The CQC emerged as an overburdened organisation failing to fulfil its regulatory responsibilities.  It is suffering low public confidence following its failure to effectively regulate social care providers.  It is difficult to envisage how it could be expected to take on the highly specific functions of the HFEA, with sensitive ethical as well as medical responsibilities which affect future generations. 


“The HTA regulates the storage and use of human tissue. Chaired by Baroness Warwick it gives the public confidence that human tissue and organs will be used with proper consent. There is no guarantee the HTA will remain independent if their very existence is under threat.


“The Equality and Human Rights Commission costs £1 for every person in Britain. That is a small price to pay for equality. Equal pay is still an issue. There is still much to be done.


“In my view there is no reason for the HFEA, the HTA or the EHRC to be included in the Public Bodies Bill.”


The progress of the Bill, including transcripts of Committee meetings and debates in the Chamber, can be tracked at:


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