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Lord Rees queries wisdom of abolishing HFEA

06 December 2010

By Ben Jones

Appeared in BioNews 587

Lord Rees, outgoing President of the Royal Society, has raised concerns over the abolition of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) saying it may affect the Government's ability to make well informed policy decisions. Talking to the Times on Wednesday 1 December, he questioned the extent to which the 'bonfire of the quangos' had been considered and highlighted the ongoing relevance of extra-governmental organisations in helping to inform government policy

The HFEA's functions would not cease to be required after its dissolution, he said. He also spoke in support of Baroness Ruth Deech's efforts to save the fertility regulator. Acknowledging that 'in some cases one sheds no tears for the abolition of quangos', the peer argued that nonetheless 'it seems to be an example of a policy that has been decided upon without tremendous forethought or consideration'.

Lord Rees was also concerned that - in the attack on quangos - specialist scientific organisations would be disproportionately hit. Mentioning the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, Lord Rees raised his concerns that the independence of scientific advice could be compromised by bringing decision making inside government departments.

The news comes in the same week that the government was criticised for its proposal to repeal a statutory obligation to appoint scientists to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Quango abolitions ‘will damage science advice’
The Times | 06 December 2010
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

19 December 2011 - by Sandy Starr 
The Public Bodies Bill - which empowers the UK Government to transfer the functions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the country's regulator of fertility treatment and embryo research - has received Royal Assent and has become the Public Bodies Act. This Act represents the realisation in statute of the Coalition Government's longstanding plans for a 'bonfire of the quangos'...
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