HFEA and HTA (Government Response): 17th July 2013

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Anna Soubry)
The Department of Health is today publishing Government response to the independent report, “Review of the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority” by Justin McCracken.

On 25 January 2013 I announced to the House that, following a consultation carried out in 2012 on proposals to transfer functions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), I had commissioned an independent review of both bodies which would also give serious consideration to their merger. This review was conducted by Justin McCracken, the then chief executive of the Health Protection Agency, between January and April 2013 following which he reported to me and the Minister for the Cabinet Office.

We have now considered Mr McCracken’s report in detail and have taken careful note of his conclusion that the current arrangements deliver generally effective regulation and achieve high levels of public and professional confidence. We have also closely examined his finding that there is little overlap in the activities of the two bodies and his conclusion that greater efficiency is to be gained from reducing the burden of regulation than ​from structural reform. The review recognises that there is scope for improvement in the ways the bodies operate, and that efficiencies can be achieved by way of a review of human tissue legislation. There are 18 recommendations in total to help achieve a reduction in the burden of regulation. Most of the recommendations are aimed at the HFEA and HTA and we will work with them to ensure they are implemented.

The report recommends that the Government review human tissue legislation. We recognise the importance of that and understand that there will be particular sensitivities around such an undertaking but believe that the evidence presented in the McCracken report is persuasive. We are committed to safeguarding the principles of the Human Tissue Act (and the requirements of EU legislation) but believe that after nearly a decade in force, a review of this legislation is timely. We aim to produce a consultation document in this financial year.

The Department, therefore, accepts Mr McCracken’s recommendations in total, and will work closely with the HFEA and HTA as they implement those recommendations for them.

In conclusion, we believe that implementation will bring about increased efficiency and effectiveness of the regulators while maintaining public and professional confidence in these sensitive and complex areas.

A copy of the Government response to the report of the independent review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority by Justin McCracken along with a copy of the independent report, “Review of the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority” have been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.