Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Human Tissue Authority: 25th January 2013

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Anna Soubry)
The Department of Health is today publishing its response to its “Consultation on proposals to transfer functions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority”.

In “Liberating the NHS: Report of the arm’s-length bodies review” (2010) the Department set out its proposals for reducing bureaucracy and increasing efficiencies. This included proposals to transfer all functions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) with a view to abolishing the two organisations by 2015. The public consultation set out options for taking this work forward and ran between June and September 2012.

The Department has welcomed the responses it has received to this important consultation. The responses have come from a range of representative bodies, leading organisations and individuals and we are grateful for the time and effort respondents have put into this. The Department recognises that the majority of respondents do not favour a transfer of functions to the Care Quality Commission and the Health Research Authority and has listened to the strong message about the risk of losing specialist expertise if functions were to be transferred. We have therefore concluded not to transfer the functions at this time.

The Department has also given very careful consideration to the clear message from the consultation of the need for a review of the way in which the HFEA and HTA undertake their functions. I have therefore commissioned an independent review to start immediately. This review will look at:

the scope to streamline the way in which the two bodies undertake their regulatory and statutory functions, including through joint working, sharing resources and information and working more closely with other health sector regulators;

the scope to reduce and rationalise the burden of inspection, information collection and process of research approvals that falls on the regulated sector, without compromising the safeguards in the respective Acts; and

the scope for shared authority membership and leadership, and of a merger of the two bodies.​

It will report to me and the Minister for the Cabinet Office by April 2013.

As a result of our decision, we do not intend to proceed with the policy facilitated by clause 75 of the “Draft Care and Support Bill”, (Cm 8386), which would amend the Public Bodies Act to allow for abolition of the HFEA and HTA.

A copy of the “Government response to the consultation on proposals to transfer functions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority” has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.