Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

A visiting alien might have concluded that the only political news this week was about a donation that was never made.

In fact, the Commons was considering a more profound and genuinely controversial matter - the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

Conservative MPs have free votes on such issues of conscience, and often the decisions are agonising ones.

I have received a great deal of correspondence from constituents about the Bill, mostly expressing concern.  Many people urged me to support lower time limits for abortions, and when we voted on the issue in May I agreed with them - although the votes were lost.

I supported proposals to sanction certain types of hybrid human-animal embryos, which could help to find new cures for diseases such as Parkinson's, because I was reassured that these did not constitute the creation of a new form of human life - but I voted for greater safeguards.

However, I voted against ‘saviour siblings' - babies that are created to help a sick brother or sister - as I felt that it would be profoundly wrong to create human beings as a means to another person's end.

The Bill removes the requirement for IVF clinicians to consider the need for a father.  Some saw this as an attack on the nuclear family, but I disagreed.

I'm a believer in the value of marriage as an institution, but I don't think that responsible fatherhood will be promoted by discriminating against a very few lesbian parents, who may well provide loving and secure homes that are sadly denied to millions of children.

At the end, I felt that the Bill was good in some parts but bad in others - so I decided to abstain on the final vote of principle.

I appreciate that not all of my constituents will agree with the way I voted - but I did my best to weigh these difficult issues and exercise my conscience with care.

Michelle Taylor