Gordon Brown gives MPs free vote on embryology bill
Gordon Brown will allow Labour MPs a free vote on controversial parts of the new embryology laws.
After criticisms over his indecision on the bill, the Prime Minister has announced Labour MPs will be granted a free vote on three sections of the bill, including permitting scientists to create embryos with human DNA and animal cells; deciding whether fertility clinics should be prevented from refusing treatment for single women and lesbians and creating a child with the exact tissue match to help save a sick brother or sister’s life.
Brown had faced growing pressure from the Catholic church and some cabinet colleagues to grant the free vote, after initially suggesting Labour MPs could abstain but not vote against the bill.
He made the concession at the launch of Labour’s local election campaign saying: ‘On the three issues where, for the first time, these ethical issues are being debated in parliament in this new way…exercising your conscience will mean for Labour party members a free vote.
Brown added: ‘I have always said that although I attach huge importance to this legislation – to save lives and help to cure and treat diseases – we respect the consciences of every member of parliament as they decide how to cast their vote on this.’
The Prime Minister went on to explain that the embryology bill itself cannot be subject to a free vote as numerous further changes are required first to build up the research framework in Britain.