Brown backs hybrid embryo research

Gordon Brown has called on MPs to back the use of animal-human embryo research.

The Commons will consider the human fertilisation and embryology bill in its committee stage tomorrow and on Tuesday.

In a personal defence of the controversial practice in an article published in the Observer today Mr Brown declared his impassioned support for embryonic research.

He wrote of the morally beneficial implications of the research method, challenging the views of those in the church who condemn the practice.

“The scientists I speak to are committed to what they see as an inherently moral endeavour that can save and improve the lives of thousands – and, over time, millions – of people,” Mr Brown wrote.

“I believe that we owe it to ourselves and future generations to introduce these measures,” he added, calling on MPs for their support in this issue.

The prime minister’s personal interest in the issue has been sparked by the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis in his younger son Fraser, a condition that could in the future be helped with embryo research.

The first part-human, part-animal hybrid embryos were created at Newcastle University last month, surviving for up to three days and triggering condemnation from the Catholic church.

Mr Brown conceded a free vote on the issue in March, after at least three Catholic Cabinet members raised concerns about elements of the bill.