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Public Consultation on proposed changes to the Surrogacy laws in the UK.

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Dear Law Commission,

I have some questions relating to the Public Consultation on proposed changes to the Surrogacy laws in the UK.

Please can you confirm which groups were involved in the initial consultation in 2017. Please can you include how many times you met with each group?

If you met with Surrogacy UK, please can you confirm how many times you met with this group https://surrogacyuk.org

Please can you confirm if you met with any psychologists who specialise in maternal, baby/child attachment and if you consulted with any mothers of new born babies or with any surrogates and if so how many? I would also be interested to know if you consulted with adults born of surrogates.

Additionally I would be interested to know why there is no section in the consultation covering Egg Donors and the controls and regulations in connection to this and if perhaps there are plans to have a separate consultation to this at another time, as it is a relevant to the laws around surrogacy, particularly around DNA and parental rights.

Lastly, please can you confirm the female/male ratio of staff involved in the consultation, both in the meetings where this was discussed and in the writing of the questions and guidelines.

Yours faithfully,

Lexi

LAWCOM (FOI), Law Commission

This is an automatic acknowledgement of your email, which is being dealt
with. If we require further details from you, we will contact you again
before we send you a substantive reply.

Thank you,

Law Commission

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
[1]Privacy Notice

 

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LAWCOM (FOI), Law Commission

Dear Lexi,

Thank you for your request for information dated 27/8/19 and received in this office on 27/8/19.
We acknowledge receipt. We are handling your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We will respond to you as promptly as possible and, in any event, will provide the information you seek within 20 working days from receipt of your request, unless it transpires that we do not hold the information or that the information is exempt from disclosure. In the latter event we will advise you why the information sought cannot be disclosed.

Your request for information will be handled within the Commission by the Property, Family and Trust Law team.

If you have any query in the meantime relating to your request please contact Sade King in this office (020-3334 0431) who acts as the Commission’s FoI co-ordinator.

Thanks,
Jamil

Jamil Hussain | Law Commission
Corporate Services Team Assistant
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.54, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 0443 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]
For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

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surrogacy, Law Commission

Dear Lexi,

 

You requested information from the Commission under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. We acknowledged your request on the day of its
receipt, 27 August 2019. Your request has been handled by the Surrogacy
Project team.

 

I am writing now to ask you to clarify part of your request. Our
understanding of your request, “Please can you confirm which groups were
involved in the initial consultation in 2017. Please can you include how
many times you met with each group?”, is that you wish to see a list of
group stakeholders with whom we engaged in preparing the Consultation
Paper, and the number of times we met with each of them during the
pre-consultation period. Is this correct? For clarity, the Law Commission
did not hold a consultation on surrogacy in 2017. Surrogacy was considered
as a possible project in the Law Commission consultation on the 13^th
Programme of Law Reform, which ran from 12 July – 31 October 2016.
Following that consultation, our Board of Commissioners approved the
project for inclusion in the Commission’s 13^th Programme of work, and the
project began in May 2018 with the support of the Department of Health.
The surrogacy project is currently holding a consultation on the proposals
and questions contained in our Consultation Paper Building families
through surrogacy: a new law, which will close on 11 October 2019.

 

We should make clear that, in providing any clarification of your request
for us, you are under no obligation to disclose to the Commission the
purpose which underlies your request for information.

 

We should also tell you that whilst we are waiting for you to provide
clarification of your request, the 20 working days’ time limit for our
responding to you on the request will not operate. If you need to discuss
this issue, or need assistance in identifying more clearly the information
you are wanting, please telephone me on 020 3334 3152 or email me at
[1][email address].

 

Stakeholders met pre-consultation

If our understanding of the request above is correct, please find below a
list of group stakeholders with whom we engaged in preparing the
Consultation Paper, and the number of times we met with each of them in
brackets.

o The Bar Council (1)
o Bindmans LLP (1)
o Brilliant Beginnings (2)
o British Association of Social Workers (1)
o British Infertility Counselling Association (2 and attended 1 annual
conference)
o British Surrogacy Centre (1)
o Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) (1)
o Care Clinic, Manchester (1)
o Christian Medical Fellowship (1)
o COTS (1)
o Dawson Cornwell [law firm] (1)
o Donor Conception Network (1)
o Scottish Equality Network (1)
o Goodman Ray [law firm] (1)
o Hope Springs Fertility Law (1)
o International Fertility Law Group (1)
o Kingsley Napley [law firm] (1)
o Law Society of England and Wales (1)
o NGA Law (1)
o Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency (NIGALA) (1)
o NorthWest Surrogacy Center (1)
o Osbornes Law (1)
o Members of the Royal College of Midwives (1 meeting and spoke at RCM
national conference)
o University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (1)
o Stonewall (1)
o Surrogacy UK (2 meetings, attended/spoke at 1 annual conference)
o All-Party Parliamentary Group on Surrogacy (c. 2 meetings, plus
attended APPG launch and 1 evidence session)
o Department for Education (2)
o Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2)
o General Register Office (1)
o Government Equalities Office (1)
o Home Office (1)
o Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (2)
o Ministry of Justice (1)
o National Records of Scotland (1)
o Department of Health (regular meetings, as this is the department with
policy responsibility and is providing funding for the project).

 

Meetings with Surrogacy UK

As you will note above, we met with Surrogacy UK twice prior to publishing
the consultation paper and attended their annual conference.

 

Meetings with surrogates, psychologists and adults born of surrogacy

We had formal meetings with two women who had acted as surrogates prior to
publishing the consultation paper. We have spoken with other surrogates
more informally, via the APPG on Surrogacy and attendance at the Surrogacy
UK conference. We met one developmental psychologist with a specialism in
the psychology of children born through assisted reproductive technology.
We also met one adult born of a surrogacy arrangement. We did not meet
specifically with mothers of newly born babies (as a group) but some of
the surrogates to whom we spoke had recently given birth.

 

We encourage members of all of the groups you mention to respond to our
consultation, which is currently open.

 

Egg Donation

While it is correct to say that the consultation paper does not have a
section specifically focusing on egg donation, this topic is considered at
a number of points in the consultation paper. This includes in the context
of:

o Telling children born of a surrogacy arrangement about their genetic
and gestational origins (pages 59 – 61);
o The current law on requirements of a genetic link for a parental order
(page 92);
o The prohibition on the use of anonymously donated gametes (pages 160 -
161);
o Remuneration for egg donation cycles (page 218);
o Children’s access to information about surrogacy arrangements (Chapter
10);
o The register of information maintained by the Human Fertilisation and
Embryology Authority (pages 236 – 240);
o Reform of the requirement for a genetic link (pages 277 – 286);
o Registration of genetic parents (pages 291 – 294); and
o Payment of a fixed fee for surrogacy (pages 339 – 341).

 

We also use the term 'traditional surrogacy arrangement' to describe an
arrangement where the surrogate is genetically related to the child she
carries because her egg is used. We consider traditional surrogacy
arrangements throughout the consultation paper.

 

There are currently no plans for a Law Commission project exclusively on
the topic of egg donation.

 

Ratio of Female/Male Staff

You ask us to confirm “the female/male ratio of staff involved in the
consultation, both in the meetings where this was discussed and in the
writing of the questions and guidelines”. The Scottish Law Commission and
the Law Commission of England and Wales work in a collaborative manner
with all staff involved in the project feeding into policy discussions and
reviewing drafts of the text. Including Commissioners, there were 7 female
and 11 male staff at the Law Commissions involved in the publication of
the Consultation Paper.

 

If you are not content with the manner in which we have handled your
request for information, you can ask us to conduct an internal review of
the request. Please contact Sade King, our FoI co-ordinator, who will
explain and initiate the internal procedure for you. We ask that your
request is made within two months of the date of this email.

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request you have a
right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF.

t) 0303 123 1113

w) [2]www.ico.org.uk

 

The supply of information in response to a freedom of information request
does not confer an automatic right to re-use the information. Under UK
copyright law you can use any information supplied for the purposes of
private study and non-commercial research without requiring permission. 

For other forms of re-use, for example publishing the information, you
would need the permission of the organisation or person who owns the
copyright.  In the case of information produced by government departments
and agencies you can re-use the information under the Open Government
Licence.  For information about this please see
[3]http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/infor...

 

If, however, the copyright is identified as belonging to somebody else,
you will need to apply for permission. For information about how to obtain
permission from a third party, please go to Intellectual Property Office’s
website at [4]www.ipo.org.uk

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Spencer Clarke

 

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission

Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team

1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG

(access via 102 Petty France)

Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: [5]www.lawcom.gov.uk

 

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
[6]Privacy Notice

 

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Dear Spencer,

Thank you so much for this detailed information, it is very useful to see the long list of businesses and organisations who had meetings with the Law Commission.

Please can you confirm as to whether any meetings were held with external stakeholders any such as the European Court of Human Rights or United Nations, in particular the UN special Rapporteur? Thank you.

Additionally, please can you send to me the meeting minutes from the meetings that took place with the following:

o Brilliant Beginnings (2)
o British Association of Social Workers (1)
o COTS (1)
o Donor Conception Network (1)
o Hope Springs Fertility Law (1)
o NGA Law (1)
o Members of the Royal College of Midwives (1 meeting and spoke at RCM
national conference)
o Stonewall (1)
o Department for Education (2)
o Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2)
o Government Equalities Office (1)
o Home Office (1)
o Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (2)
o Ministry of Justice (1)

Please could you also send the meeting minutes from the evidence session with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Surrogacy.

I appreciate your help with this.

With thanks in advance and kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

LAWCOM (FOI), Law Commission

Dear Lexi,

Thank you for your request for information dated 17/9/19 and received in this office on 18/9/19.
We acknowledge receipt. We are handling your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We will respond to you as promptly as possible and, in any event, will provide the information you seek within 20 working days from receipt of your request, unless it transpires that we do not hold the information or that the information is exempt from disclosure. In the latter event we will advise you why the information sought cannot be disclosed.

If you have any query in the meantime relating to your request please contact Sade King in this office (020-3334 0431) who acts as the Commission’s FoI co-ordinator.

Kind regards,
Sade

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Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

Thank you for your further email of 17 September 2019, acknowledged on 19 September 2019, in which you requested further information from the Commission under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Your request has been handled by the Property, Family and Trust team.

With regard to your first request for disclosure, we provide the information that you have sought. We have not met representatives of the European Court of Human Rights, although, as you will note, we have considered the case law of the ECHR in the consultation paper. We have also considered the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children (Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material – January 2018 – A/HRC/37/60). The Special Rapporteur, Ms de Boer-Buquicchio, attended a workshop we gave at a conference on surrogacy at Cambridge University in June this year and, at the same time, we attended a meeting held by Ms de Boer-Buquicchio to discuss her ongoing work in this area.

With regard to your second request for disclosure, being minutes of meetings with certain stakeholders, we can confirm that the Commission holds the information that you requested but that we are not prepared to disclose that information because the information is exempt information by virtue of section 17(1) and section 36 (prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) of the Act. The exemption applies because releasing such minutes would prevent stakeholders from having frank and detailed discussions with us about how the law currently operates in practice and about their ideas for reform. Disclosure would therefore prevent the Law Commission from operating in a safe way, on the basis of mutual trust, in testing out and developing the way a project might develop. This would have a significant detrimental effect on the Commission’s effectiveness as a reform organisation. This is particularly likely to be the case in the situation where, until the publication of the report (due 2021), the issue of surrogacy reform is a live issue for the Commission.

We are also of the view that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. This is because we believe that release of minutes of meetings with stakeholders would have the effect of decreasing the effectiveness of the important work of the Law Commission in reforming the law. This would undermine the Commission’s ability to fulfil its statutory function and therefore prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. There is, therefore, greater public interest in maintaining the exemption in this case, rather than disclosing the information sought.

If you are not content with the manner in which we have handled your request for information you can ask us to conduct an internal review of the request. Please write to Sade King, our FoI co-ordinator, who will explain and initiate the internal procedure for you. We ask that your request for a review is made within two months of the date of this letter.

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF
t. 0303-123 1113
w. www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission
Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

Dear Spencer,

Thank you so much for this detailed information, it is very useful to see the long list of businesses and organisations who had meetings with the Law Commission.

Please can you confirm as to whether any meetings were held with external stakeholders any such as the European Court of Human Rights or United Nations, in particular the UN special Rapporteur? Thank you.

Additionally, please can you send to me the meeting minutes from the meetings that took place with the following:

o Brilliant Beginnings (2)
o British Association of Social Workers (1) o COTS (1) o Donor Conception Network (1) o Hope Springs Fertility Law (1) o NGA Law (1) o Members of the Royal College of Midwives (1 meeting and spoke at RCM national conference) o Stonewall (1) o Department for Education (2) o Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2) o Government Equalities Office (1) o Home Office (1) o Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (2) o Ministry of Justice (1)

Please could you also send the meeting minutes from the evidence session with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Surrogacy.

I appreciate your help with this.

With thanks in advance and kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

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Dear Spencer,

Thank you for your response.

In place of providing the meeting minutes, please can you provide a list of objectives for each meeting in the original list. To understand the purpose of each meeting would be useful.

With thanks and kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

Thank you for your email of yesterday. The overall objective for each of the meetings in the list was the same: to discover and understand the views of those whom we met on the state of the law governing surrogacy, the practice of, and practicalities around, surrogacy, and to discuss potential law reform in this area and what that might look like. In the case of certain meetings, such as attendance at the APPG, or the conference of the Royal College of Midwives, our purpose in attending would also be to participate in forums where surrogacy and/or the reform of surrogacy is being discussed.

Kind regards

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission
Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

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Dear Spencer,

Thank you for confirming the meeting objectives.

Please can you inform me of the recommendations or conclusions noted from each of the meetings?

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

Thank you for your email today.

We do not reach specific conclusions or recommendations from each meeting that we attend.

As I have indicated the meetings are for the purpose of gathering views and information from, and for engagement with, stakeholders. Insofar as noting conclusions means a note of what was discussed that would constitute the minutes of the meeting and therefore fall within the exception to the provision of information under the Freedom of Information Act set out in my email to you of 2 October.

Kind regards

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission
Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

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Dear Spencer,

Thank you for your continued time and effort in responding. I'm keen to understand why the decision was reached to undertake the public consultation, so I am trying to understand which organisations who you had meetings with would recommend a change to the current law.

It would be useful for me to be informed as to what the recommendations were, from the organisations listed below, so without determining the content of the minutes and breaching any confidentiality, please can you indicate how the conclusion was reached to progress with the public consultation. Perhaps you could mark against each organisation as to whether the meeting concluded to progress with the public consultation? I do not need to know as to whether there was an alternative conclusion reached.

o The Bar Council (1)
o Bindmans LLP (1)
o Brilliant Beginnings (2)
o British Association of Social Workers (1)
o British Infertility Counselling Association (2 and attended 1 annual
conference)
o British Surrogacy Centre (1)
o Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) (1)
o Care Clinic, Manchester (1)
o Christian Medical Fellowship (1)
o COTS (1)
o Dawson Cornwell [law firm] (1)
o Donor Conception Network (1)
o Scottish Equality Network (1)
o Goodman Ray [law firm] (1)
o Hope Springs Fertility Law (1)
o International Fertility Law Group (1)
o Kingsley Napley [law firm] (1)
o Law Society of England and Wales (1)
o NGA Law (1)
o Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem Agency (NIGALA) (1)
o NorthWest Surrogacy Center (1)
o Osbornes Law (1)
o Members of the Royal College of Midwives (1 meeting and spoke at RCM
national conference)
o University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (1)
o Stonewall (1)
o Surrogacy UK (2 meetings, attended/spoke at 1 annual conference)
o All-Party Parliamentary Group on Surrogacy (c. 2 meetings, plus
attended APPG launch and 1 evidence session)
o Department for Education (2)
o Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2)
o General Register Office (1)
o Government Equalities Office (1)
o Home Office (1)
o Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (2)
o Ministry of Justice (1)
o National Records of Scotland (1)
o Department of Health (regular meetings, as this is the department with
policy responsibility and is providing funding for the project).

I do appreciate your ongoing support.

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

Thank you for your email of yesterday. The purpose of the meetings held pre-consultation was not to decide whether to hold a public consultation. Once our Board of Commissioners has made the decision to take on a project of this type, with the necessary support from the relevant department (Department of Health and Social Care), we would always carry out a public consultation following the publication of a consultation paper.

Yours sincerely

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission
Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

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Dear Spencer,

Please can you provide the information upon which it was decided to contact the groups listed?

There must have been a discussion between the Board of Commissioners to decide who to approach for advice, information, insight or experience of the field of surrogacy.

Please can you explain how those decisions were reached and those organisations selected to be approached?

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

I am away from the office without access to emails or voicemail, returning
Monday 4 November.

 

In my absence please contact Liam Davis on:

 

[email address] (020 3334 0421)

 

Your email has not been forwarded.

 

If you have a media enquiry regarding our surrogacy project please contact
our Head of Comms, Dan Popescu, on [email address] or
on 07784 275513 

If your enquiry relates to a Freedom of Information matter, please direct
it to [email address].

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Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

Thank you for your email. The decision as to which groups to contact was not taken by the Board of Commissioners but by the staff team working on the project, as is usual.

The organisations were selected for a variety of reasons including a stated interest in surrogacy; organisations that we were already aware had an interest in, or experience of, surrogacy arrangements or surrogacy law; or organisations that had responded to the public consultation on our 13th Programme of law reform with regard to the possibility of us undertaking a project on the reform of the law governing surrogacy.

Having undertaken these pre-consultation meetings with the organisations in question we then looked to publicise as widely as possible the public consultation on our provisional proposals to reform the law of surrogacy, following the publication of our consultation paper in June this year. The public consultation sought to invite input on our proposals from anyone interested in surrogacy, including those groups which we may not have been aware of before the consultation period. All views received throughout these stages of consultation will be considered in forming our final recommendations.

Yours sincerely

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission
Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

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Dear Spencer,

Thank you for your reply. I would like to confirm my understanding. Please can you confirm that I have understood correctly? Thank you.

Once the public consultation was finalised and made available to the general public online other organisations were able, but not invited to send responses, was there a second attempt to reach out to other groups who had not been named on the original list?

If I understand correctly, there was a draft list of groups who had a stated interest in surrogacy or worked in the area of surrogacy arrangements or surrogacy law and this list was finalised and approved by the Board of Commissioners. (I would call these groups 'Stakeholders' due to their level of involvement in the area of surrogacy. I ask this as there are UK and European organisations and international experts in the field of surrogacy whose names do not appear on the original list.)

Please also can you provide details of how the Board of Commissioners decided to promote the consultation or make the general public aware that the consultation was active? I ask this as I was made aware of this by word of mouth and had not heard anything of it through mainstream media, or social media, or local media or via my local council, hospital or GP surgery. If you are able to share a copy of the communication plan please can you attach it to your reply.

With thanks and kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

Thank you for your request for information dated 4 November 2019 and received in this office on that date. We acknowledge receipt. We are handling your request for information under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000.

We will respond to you as promptly as possible and, in any event, will provide the information you seek within 20 working days from receipt of your request, unless it transpires that we do
not hold the information or that the information is exempt from disclosure. In the latter event we will advise you why the information sought cannot be disclosed.

Your request for information will be handled within the Commission by me.

If you have any query in the meantime relating to your request please contact Sade King in this office (020-3334 0431) who acts as the Commission’s FoI co-ordinator.

Yours sincerely

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission
Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

show quoted sections

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

1 Attachment

Dear Lexi

Communications plan

I write with reference to your email of 4 November 2019, containing a
request for disclosure of the communications plan for the launch of the
surrogacy consultation paper. I attach the communications plan, which was
not finalised. Instead, it was used as the basis for discussions between
the team and the Head of Communications, which were not documented. For
context, there is some focus in the plan on reaching an LGBT audience.
This was because we understand that a very significant percentage of those
who enter into surrogacy arrangements are same-sex couples.

The supply of information in response to a freedom of information request
does not confer an automatic right to re-use the information. Under UK
copyright law you can use any information supplied for the purposes of
private study and non-commercial research without requiring permission.
For other forms of re-use, for example publishing the information, you
would need the permission of the organisation or person who owns the
copyright. In the case of information produced by government departments
and agencies you can re-use the information under the Open Government
Licence. For information about this please see

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/infor...

 

If you are not content with the manner in which we have handled your
request for information you can ask us to conduct an internal review of
the request. Please contact Sade King, our FoI co-ordinator, who will
explain and initiate the internal procedure for you. We ask that your
request for a review is made within two months of the date of this letter.
If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request you have a
right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House,

Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

t. 0303-123-1113

w. www.ico.org.uk

 

Promotion of the consultation

In respect of how the team, with the advice of the Head of
Communications,  decided to promote the consultation and make the general
public aware that the consultation was active, I have set out below a
description of our communications strategy and the outcome for the
surrogacy project.

 

For every law reform project we undertake, ensuring as many responses as
possible to a consultation is a key objective. The communications function
plays a key role in achieving this, no more so than for the surrogacy
consultation which we launched on 06 June 2019. When planning our
communications we focus primarily on securing media coverage, supported by
social media and working with any stakeholders (such as relevant
organisations and Government departments) to amplify the messaging.

 

Once a draft of a consultation paper is complete,  our Head of
Communications works with the relevant Commissioner and team to decide the
type of media that we should be approaching. We consider whether we think
there will be national and,  potentially, broadcast media interest or
whether the topic is more suitable for specialist media. The press release
and supporting materials are drafted based on the type of media that we
are targeting. We also develop social media content.

We expected national coverage and so developed the press release with that
in mind.  We secured a number of significant pieces of coverage. On the
BBC, we secured a prime slot on the Today programme which helps sets the
news agenda for the day ahead, on the Emma Barnett show on Five Live, on a
BBC Scotland TV news bulletin (The Nine) and in an online story. The Daily
Mail, Guardian, Telegraph, Independent, Times, Metro and Huff Post all
covered the announcement of the launch of the consultation.

We supported the media work with a number of tweets, including one which
received more than 50,000 impressions. During the consultation period we
tweeted regularly to encourage people to attend our consultation events,
and to announce that we had extended the consultation period. Several
stakeholders including academics, journalists and campaigners also
published their own social media content.

From the wide range of coverage we secured to the number of social media
posts to encourage engagement, we are of the view that, taking into
account our size and capacity, our communications strategy was
successful.  We would hope and expect that the coverage of the
consultation paper in mainstream, widely-read media, coupled with the use
of news alerts, would mean that  the opportunity had been provided to all
those members of the public, or organisations with an interest in reading
and responding to our consultation to have been aware of the consultation
within a short time of the publication of the consultation paper on 6
June. Our Head of Communications considers that, during the 15 months that
he has been at the Commission the launch of the surrogacy consultation is
the most successful launch that we have had.

Your other questions

The list of stakeholders to contact was not finalised or approved by the
Board of Commissioners; this is the responsibility of the team.

After the launch of the consultation we did seek to reach out to other
groups. For example, those relevant to women’s rights, birth, or medical
issues affecting women were:

 

-              Rights of Women (Women’s Legal Charity)

-              Filia (Women’s rights organisation)

-              Rosa (Women’s poverty charity)

-              Wellbeing of Women (Women’s health charity)

-              Daisy Network (Charity for women with ovarian conditions)

-              National Maternity Support Foundation

-              Muslim Women’s Network

-              Baby Lifeline

-              Kicks Count (Foetal Movement organisation)

-              Miscarriage Association

-              Action on Pre-Eclampsia

-              AIRE Centre (Human rights organisation)

-              Maternity Action

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service also attended one of our
consultation events.

Yours sincerely

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission

Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team

1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG

(access via 102 Petty France)

Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk

Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
Privacy Notice

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Clarke, Spencer,

Thank you for this information.

Please can you link to the tweet that you mentioned that received 50,000 impressions? Thank you.

Additionally, please can you confirm if any weekly or monthly women magazines or women's online groups for women were contacted in order to encourage coverage of the consultation and spread the message that this was now available online to receive submissions.

Lastly, of the list of organisations that deal with women’s rights, birth, or medical issues provided, please can you confirm when you made initial contact with each group listed and if they responded.

With thanks and kind regards.

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

I write to acknowledge receipt of your email of today, I expect to respond substantively before the end of the week.

Yours sincerely

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission
Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

show quoted sections

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

 

I write further to our email exchange of Monday 16 December. In your email
of that date you requested certain information.

Information that you requested

The tweet can be found here:
[1]https://twitter.com/Law_Commission/statu....

On 3 June 2019 we contacted Vogue and Elle magazines, as well as Good
Health magazine (supplement to the Daily Mail).  Grazia carried a piece
about the consultation – see
[2]https://graziadaily.co.uk/life/real-life....

We contacted the groups listed in our email of on 9 July 2019. Of those
listed, we received consultation responses from Maternity Action and the
British Pregnancy Advisory Service. We also met the Aire Centre but they
did not submit a formal response until after the close of the consultation
period.

Publication of consultation responses

For your information, we have decided to publish all of the consultation
responses at the end of the project and to not provide them before this
time.

The next stage of our surrogacy project is for us to collate and analyse
all the responses we have received to the consultation. This analysis will
then inform our final recommendations which will be published in a final
report. Around the time that our final report is published, we will be
publishing the consultation responses. The responses will be made
available on the surrogacy page of our website:
[3]https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/surrog....

Any request to see consultation responses would be considered under the
Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). All the consultation responses are
exempt from disclosure under section 22 of the FOI.

We intend to publish all consultation responses when we publish our final
report. Section 22 of the FOIA exempts from disclosure information
intended for publication at a future date if it is reasonable to do so,
and so long as it is in the public interest to maintain the exemption.

We consider that it is reasonable to withhold this information.
Consultation responses are gathered to help us develop final
recommendations. Earlier disclosure risks making that task more difficult,
disrupting the preparation of the final report, and detracting from the
final report itself. Disclosure also threatens to undermine confidence in
our work, and might feed market uncertainty.

We also consider that the public interest lies in favour of withholding
the information. Disclosing responses in isolation could communicate an
unbalanced picture of what consultees have been saying and might result in
certain consultees being unfairly singled out. Disclosure could also
create unhelpful speculation as to how the Law Commission will respond to
various consultees and what final recommendations will be made; it could
also prevent, or make it more difficult, for the Commission to work with
stakeholders to refine their views, test areas of compromise and reach
consensus. Having considered the public interest, the Law Commission’s
decision is therefore to withhold consultation responses from publication
until the end of the project.

In general

If you are not content with the manner in which we have handled your
request for information you can ask us to conduct an internal review of
the request. Please contact Sade King, our FoI co-ordinator (in copy), who
will explain and initiate the internal procedure for you. We ask that your
request for a review is made within two months of the date of this email.

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request you have a
right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF
t. 0303-123-1113
w. https://ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely

 

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission

Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team

1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG

(access via 102 Petty France)

Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk

Email: [4][email address]

 

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
[5]Privacy Notice

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Spencer,

My apologies for my delayed response. Thank you for sharing those links and the further information on the next steps. I'm pleased to know that all responses are to be kept private, I have made contact with some of the organisations you list so to discuss their responses with them away from this platform.

As the consultation has been informed by various organisations in it's creation I wondered if you had any statistics that informed it's conception, for example, do you have access to the numbers of surrogate mothers who did not sign over parental rights to the baby after giving birth? My understanding is that this is a rare circumstance but I could be wrong so I would be grateful if you could direct me to source who could share this information with me.

Many thanks again,

Lexi

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

I am away from the office without access to emails or voicemail, returning
on Thursday 29 January.

 

In my absence, and if your query is urgent, please contact Matthew Jolley:

 

[email address]

 

Your email has not been forwarded.

 

If your enquiry relates to a Freedom of Information matter, please direct
it to [email address].

show quoted sections

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

Thank you for your email.

Our understanding is that it is rare for women acting as surrogates to refuse to consent to a parental order. For example Surrogacy UK have told us that this has only happened in one of the cases with which they have been involved.

However, there is no statistical data available refusal of consent, of which I am aware. Court statistics data simply shows the number of children involved in applications, and orders, for parental orders. It is possible that the Ministry of Justice and Cafcass may hold data about the number of cases where consent has been refused. Ministry of Justice can be contacted here https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... and Cafcass here https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/about-cafcass....

Your sincerely

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission
Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

show quoted sections

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for your advice, I will contact both the Ministry of Justice and Cafcass.

I understand the brief on your website:

"There is potential uncertainty caused by surrogates (and sometimes their husbands) being entered as parent(s) on the birth certificate of a child born as the result of a surrogacy arrangement. Currently, parental orders can only be obtained after the birth of the child and upon an application to court by the intended parents. In one case, the effect of the law “was that the children were marooned stateless and parentless”;
We have been told that the conditions for making a parental order are unnecessarily restrictive."

Please can you confirm which case it was that was quoted and please can you also confirm how parental orders are viewed to be "unnecessarily restrictive".

I ask as I understand that this is a key focus and motivating factor for there to be a proposed change to the law, prior to public consultation. As there is no known statistical increase in parental orders being refused by surrogate mothers I'm struggling to understand what is driving the proposed changes in the law.

Yours sincerely and with continued thanks and gratitude,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

Thank you for your email. The case being quoted from in the website text is X & Y (Foreign Surrogacy) [2008] EWHC 3030 (Fam). For the text of the judgment see https://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.asp....

I note that the text to which you refer is from the page dealing with surrogacy as a potential area for reform, dating from the time of the public consultation on the contents of our 13th Programme of reform.

Regarding the motivation for changing the law, I think the best I can do is to point you towards the consultation paper where we set out in full our critique of the current law.

In particular, I would refer you to:

A brief overview of the case for reform in Chapter 1, at pages 10 to 12.
Chapters 11 and 12, which discuss in full the problems with, and provisionally propose reform of, the existing criteria for parental orders (Chapter 11 covers the issue of the consent of the woman acting as surrogate, and potentially her spouse or civil partner, to the parental order).

For ease of reference, the consultation paper can be found at https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/surrog....

Yours sincerely

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission
Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

show quoted sections

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for your response.

In reference to Question 101 on the consultation, are you able to share the number of applications there are for parental orders from Intended parents that are not UK Citizens, for babies that are born from surrogacy in the UK, to UK surrogate mothers? I am wondering how common it is, perhaps non-UK citizens are seeking out UK based surrogacy at an increasing rate, do you hold any data for this?

Additionally, did the Law Commission meet with Michael and/or Wes Johnson-Ellis prior to or during the public consultation period?

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi,

 

Thank you for your email.

 

Parental Orders in respect of children born in the UK through surrogacy
arrangements where the intended parents are not UK citizens

 

You asked for the number of parental order applications made from intended
parents who are not UK citizens, in respect of children born in the UK
through surrogacy arrangements with surrogates based in the UK. We do not
hold this information. Unless such intended parents were UK domiciled they
would not be eligible to apply for a parental order. To our knowledge, no
other records are kept of this kind of arrangement under the current law.
We know that such arrangements do exist because they appear in the case
law.

 

For further discussion of this issue, please see paragraphs 16.96 – 16.119
of our Consultation Paper, which is available on the surrogacy project
page of our website.

 

Meetings

 

It is important to note that the Law Commission will not, generally,
disclose personal data relating to named, living individuals who have
engaged with the surrogacy project in a personal capacity because they
themselves have been involved, or are considering entering, a surrogacy
arrangement. We will refuse to disclose information of this type that we
hold under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, where
such disclosure would be unlawful under GDPR principle (a), which states
that personal information can only be disclosed if to do so would be
lawful, fair and transparent.

 

Therefore, we can neither confirm nor deny whether we held meetings with
the individuals mentioned in your email.  We confirm, because the
information is already in the public domain, that Michael Johnson-Ellis
attended a symposium consultation event which was held on 12 September
2019, towards the end of the consultation period, and appeared on a panel
at that event.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission

Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team

1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG

(access via 102 Petty France)

Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk

Email: [email address]

 

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
Privacy Notice

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for your reply.

With reference to the consultation question regarding foreign citizens applying for parental orders in the UK, case law would be a source of clarity but as the question in the consultation invites anecdotal experience to be shared, please can you release responses on that question alone so I can read and review?

To clarify, I am not asking for the full files to be released as the need for redaction would be time-consuming and costly, I only request the responses to question 100 19.134 and 19.135.

With reference to the appearance of Mr Michael Johnson-Ellis appearing on the panel, was he invited to participate as a member of the panel by the Law Commission, and what was the reason he was selected to do so?

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

 

Thank for your email. With regard to releasing consultation responses, we
have previously set out our position in response to such requests in our
email to you of 19 December 2019, replying to your email of 16 December.
For ease of reference, I copy below the relevant section of our response:

 

Publication of consultation responses

 

For your information, we have decided to publish all of the consultation
responses at the end of the project and to not provide them before this
time.

 

The next stage of our surrogacy project is for us to collate and analyse
all the responses we have received to the consultation. This analysis will
then inform our final recommendations which will be published in a final
report. Around the time that our final report is published, we will be
publishing the consultation responses. The responses will be made
available on the surrogacy page of our website:
[1]https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/surrog....

 

Any request to see consultation responses would be considered under the
Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). All the consultation responses are
exempt from disclosure under section 22 of the FOI.

 

We intend to publish all consultation responses when we publish our final
report. Section 22 of the FOIA exempts from disclosure information
intended for publication at a future date if it is reasonable to do so,
and so long as it is in the public interest to maintain the exemption.

We consider that it is reasonable to withhold this information.
Consultation responses are gathered to help us develop final
recommendations. Earlier disclosure risks making that task more difficult,
disrupting the preparation of the final report, and detracting from the
final report itself. Disclosure also threatens to undermine confidence in
our work, and might feed market uncertainty.

 

We also consider that the public interest lies in favour of withholding
the information. Disclosing responses in isolation could communicate an
unbalanced picture of what consultees have been saying and might result in
certain consultees being unfairly singled out. Disclosure could also
create unhelpful speculation as to how the Law Commission will respond to
various consultees and what final recommendations will be made; it could
also prevent, or make it more difficult, for the Commission to work with
stakeholders to refine their views, test areas of compromise and reach
consensus. Having considered the public interest, the Law Commission’s
decision is therefore to withhold consultation responses from publication
until the end of the project.

 

We did invite Mr Johnson-Ellis to sit on one of the panels at the
symposium, as someone with personal experience of a surrogacy arrangement.
We also invited to sit on panels women who had acted as surrogates, and
other people with personal or professional experience of surrogacy
arrangements.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission

Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team

1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG

(access via 102 Petty France)

Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk

Email: [email address]

 

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
Privacy Notice

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for your rapid response. I understood your position from previous correspondence, I was seeking clarification regarding applications for parental orders from Intended Parents who were based outside of the UK. Responses to Question 100 would indicate how common an occurrence this is, at least anecdotally, since you have been unable to provide statistics on the above I was hoping to gain a deeper understanding via a different route. I will seek answers elsewhere. I thank you again for your time on this question.

With regards to the symposium event, please can you confirm the panel members who attended and the reason why each person was invited to attend. If you have materials they presented and they are available to be shared, I would be grateful if you could also provide these.

Many thanks,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

 

Further to your email of 9 March please find below our response, set out
in tabular form, to your enquiry regarding panel members at the symposium
held on 12 September 2019. We have not provided the names of those
individuals who were invited to sit on panels purely because of their
personal experience of surrogacy or donor conception, in line with the
position as set out in my email to you of 3 March, under the heading
‘Meetings’.

 

The panellists did not present prepared materials and as a result, we do
not hold such information.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Spencer Clarke

 

 

Name Panel Reason for invitation
Dr Claire Fenton-Glynn Pathways to Legal Lecturer in law,
Parenthood University of Cambridge,
expert in children’s
rights, comparative law
and international human
rights law
[NOT PROVIDED] Pathways to Legal Personal experience of
Parenthood being a surrogate
Michael Johnson-Ellis Pathways to Legal Personal experience of
Parenthood becoming a parent through
surrogacy and blogger on
same-sex parenting and
surrogacy
Andrew Spearman Pathways to Legal Solicitor and member of
Parenthood Surrogacy UK Ethics
Committee
Lillian Odze Pathways to Legal Social worker and CAFCASS
Parenthood Advisor in the High Court
Spencer Clarke Pathways to Legal Lawyer at the Law
Parenthood (panel Commission of England and
chair) Wales
Professor Emily Jackson Regulation Professor of Law at LSE,
expert in medical law and
ethics
Helen Prosser Regulation Founder at Brilliant
Beginnings and NGA Law
Natalie Smith Regulation Chair of Surrogacy UK
Working Group and
personal experience of
becoming a parent through
surrogacy
Kim Cotton Regulation Personal experience of
being a surrogate and
head of Childlessness
Overcome Through
Surrogacy (COTS)
[NOT PROVIDED] Regulation Personal experience of
being a surrogate
Andrew Powell Regulation (panel Barrister at 4 Paper
chair) Buildings, Member of
Surrogacy UK Working
Group
Dr Kirsty Horsey Payments to the Reader in Law, University
Surrogate of Kent and Member of the
Surrogacy UK Ethics
Committee
Natalie Gamble Payments to the Founder, NGA Law and
Surrogate Brilliant Beginnings
Sarah Jones Payments to the Personal experience of
Surrogate being a surrogate,
Surrogacy UK Board of
Trustees
Dr Herjeet Marway Payments to the Lecturer in Ethics,
Surrogate University of Birmingham
and Chair of Surrogacy UK
Ethics Committee,
researches global ethics
from a feminist and
critical race perspective
[NOT PROVIDED] Payments to the Personal experience of
Surrogate being a parent through
surrogacy
Colin Rogerson Payments to the Partner at Dawson
Surrogate Cornwell
Professor Nick Hopkins Payments to the Commissioner at Law
Surrogate (panel chair) Commission of England and
Wales
Professor Susan Golombok Children’s Access to Professor of Family
Information Research and Director of
the Centre for Family
Research at the
University of Cambridge,
expert in impact of new
family forms on parenting
and child development
[NOT PROVIDED] Children’s Access to Adult born through
Information surrogacy
[NOT PROVIDED] Children’s Access to Adult born through donor
Information conception
Nina Barnsley Children’s Access to Director of the Donor
Information Conception Network
Dr Marilyn Crawshaw Children’s Access to Chair of the British
Information Association of Social
Workers Project Group on
Assisted Reproduction
(PROGAR)
[NOT PROVIDED] Children’s Access to Personal experience of
Information being a parent through
surrogacy
Dr Katherine Wade Children’s Access to Lecturer in Law,
Information (panel University of Leicester,
chair) expert on children’s
rights, family law and
medical law and ethics

 

 

 

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission

Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team

1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG

(access via 102 Petty France)

Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk

Email: [1][email address]

 

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
[2]Privacy Notice

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for your reply and continued communication during this difficult time.

Thank you for supplying the names and reasons as requested. Please can you confirm whether the panel members who were invited to speak at the events were supportive of the law commission's proposals for surrogacy reform?

I understand from the list provided that many have personally benefitted from surrogacy, having had children through surrogacy, or from building a career or receiving income through a surrogacy-related service.

To the best of your knowledge, were there any panel members who spoke, or were invited to speak, of a 'anti-surrogacy' position? I ask as I'm interested to see if there was a bias or imbalance in the panel members selected.

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

 

Your request for the following information from the Commission under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 was received on 27 March 2020:

 

1.            Confirmation of whether the panel members invited to speak
at the Law Commission Surrogacy Symposium on 12 September 2020 were
supportive of the Law Commission’s proposals for surrogacy reform; and

2.            Whether or not there were any panel members who spoke, or
were invited to speak, of an ‘anti-surrogacy’ position.

 

In relation to your first request for information, we can confirm the
Commission holds the information you requested but we are not prepared to
disclose that information because the information is exempt information by
virtue of section 17(1) of the Act and section 36(2)(c) (that disclosure
is likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs). The
exemption presently applies because disclosure is likely to inhibit the
Law Commission’s ability to consult stakeholders and listen to their
evolving views expressed in a closed forum.

 

The Commission believes that, in all the circumstances of the case, the
public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest
in disclosing the information. This is because that the statutory purpose
of the Commission can only be fulfilled if our law reform is supported by
robust consultation of stakeholders.

 

In relation to your second request, we do not hold this information. As we
have set out previously, whether to prohibit surrogacy is not within the
scope of our law reform project. We are, instead, focusing on how best to
reform the law in this area in order to better regulate surrogacy. So,
when organising this symposium, we focused on inviting attendees who had
relevant experience and views.

 

However, we are able to provide a list of those who were invited to the
symposium and their affiliated organisations, with the names of those who
attended in a personal rather than professional capacity suitably redacted
in order to comply with our personal data obligations under GDPR.

 

Name Organisation
Ms Justice Russell DBE Judiciary
Mr Alan McLellan Surrogacy UK
[NOT PROVIDED] Individual
Mr Andrew Percy MP Member of Parliament
Ms Hutchinson QC Dawson Cornwell
Mr Justice Hayden Judiciary
Mr Ben Hunte BBC
Ms Catherine Drennan HFEA
Ms Anna Coundley HFEA
Ms Deirdre Fottrell QC 1GC Family Law
Baroness Barker House of Lords
Dr Ephia Yasmin UCLH
Ms Francesca Steyn Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health
Ms Jemma Dally Goodman Ray
Ms Laura Riley HFEA
Ms Marissa Allman 36 Bedford Row
Ms Sophie Vessey CAFCASS
Ms Melanie Carew CAFCASS
Mr Noel Arnold Coram Children's Legal Centre
Ms Ruth Cabeza Field Court Chambers
Dr Thérèse Callus University of Reading
Mr Steve Pugh Department of Health and Social Care
Ms Gabrielle Bourke Royal College of Midwives
Ms Lucie Parker Fawcett Society
Ms Phillippa Taylor Christian Medical Fellowship
Ms Harjit Sarang Surrogacy Lawyers
Ms Mavis Amonoo-Acquah Harcourt Chambers
Mr Barrie Drewitt-Barlow British Surrogacy Centre
Professor Eugenia Caracciolo di University of Leicester
Torella
[NOT PROVIDED] Individual
Professor Rosemary Auchmuty University of Reading
Professor Sally Hines University of Leeds
Ms Dafni Moschidou DHSC
Ms Esther Ezquerro Brilliant Beginnings

 

 

If you are not content with the manner in which we have handled your
request for information you can ask us to conduct an internal review of
the request. Please contact Sade king, our FoI co-ordinator, who will
explain and initiate the internal procedure for you. We ask that your
request for a review is made within two months of the date of this email.

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request you have a
right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
6AF.

 

t. 0303 123 1113

w. www.ico.org.uk

 

Regards

 

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission

Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team

1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG

(access via 102 Petty France)

Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk

Email: [1][email address]

 

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
[2]Privacy Notice

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for that list, I appreciate this. However, I continue to seek further clarity on the process, timeline and who were the stakeholders involved.

As advised I contacted the Dept. of Health and Social Care (DHSC) who confirm that in April 2016 "The Law Commission made an initial approach to DHSC officials about the prospect of a broad legislative review of surrogacy legislation. This was in response to representation made to the Commission by stakeholders. "

I would be grateful if you could clarify, whether it was the Law Commission who approached DHSC or whether it was, as you have made clear previously, the DHSC that approached the Law Commission?

In addition, please can you confirm who the 'stakeholders' at this stage in April 2016 were? I ask as this would be prior to "the Law Commission consultation on the 13th Programme of Law Reform, which ran from 12 July – 31 October 2016" as noted in your response of 16th September 2019 and could differ from the Stakeholders list who you met with pre-consultation as noted in the response on the same date and could differ from the list of stakeholders who appeared in panels (received 12th March)and the symposium list noted in your response from earlier today.

Many thanks,

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

Thank you for your email of Monday 6 April, of which I acknowledge receipt.

I am dealing with your request and will respond in due course.

Yours sincerely

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission
Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

show quoted sections

Dear Spencer,

Thank you for your acknowledgement.

When you reply, I would be grateful if you could also provide the list of Stakeholders from Northern Ireland as referenced in the consultation document, point 16.96:

"The fact of such arrangements is apparent in case law.53 It has also been drawn to our attention by Northern Irish stakeholders whom we spoke to in the course of preparing this paper.”

Many thanks,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi,

 

Thank you for your email of 6 April 2020, receipt of which was
acknowledged on 8 April 2020.

 

I would be grateful if you could clarify the following request: “whether
it was the Law Commission who approached the DHSC or whether it was, as
you have made clear previously, the DHSC that approached the Law
Commission?”. When you say “as [the Law Commission] have made clear
previously”, could you confirm the specific communication to which you are
referring?

 

‘Stakeholders’ is a general term used across the Government and public
bodies to refer to any person who might have an interest in their work.
Stakeholders of the Law Commission include members of the general public,
judges, lawyers and academics, all of whom we engage with in a variety of
contexts and formats asking about their ideas for law reform. We used our
selection criteria (listed at paragraphs 1.17 – 1.19 of the Thirteenth
Programme of Law Reform) to select projects upon which to consult as
potential projects of law reform in the Thirteenth Programme of Law Reform
Consultation. This assessment was made solely for the purpose of
determining which projects to highlight in the Thirteenth Programme of Law
Reform Consultation; which projects were ultimately taken forward was
determined by the responses we received from the public consultation.

 

We do not hold a list of stakeholders who contacted us prior to the
Thirteenth Programme of Law Reform Consultation on 12 July 2016. Calls for
reform of surrogacy law are documented in Hansard from October 2014
([1]https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm...),
and problems with surrogacy law had been highlighted by judges in case law
(for example, Re X (A Child) (Surrogacy: Time limit) [2014] EWHC 3135
(Fam)), as well as by academics.

 

With regard to your email of 20 April, the Northern Irish stakeholders to
whom are referring in the paper are the Northern Ireland Guardian Ad Litem
Agency; Ciaran Moynagh (solicitor); Karen O’Leary (solicitor); and Alison
McDowell (barrister).

 

If you are not content with the manner in which we have handled your 
request for information you can ask us to conduct an internal review of 
the request. Please contact Sade king, our FoI co-ordinator, who will 
explain and initiate the internal procedure for you. We ask that your
request for a review is made within two months of the date of this email 

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request you have a 
right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information  Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9  6AF.

t. 0303 123 1113

w. www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission

Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team

1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG

(access via 102 Petty France)

Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk

Email: [2][email address]

 

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
[3]Privacy Notice

show quoted sections

Dear Spencer,

In response to your question on where it is said that the DHSC asked the Law Commission to undertake this work, it is in the opening pages of the consultation paper:

"Topic of this consultation: The Department of Health and Social Care has asked the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission to consider reforms to the law of surrogacy in the United Kingdom. "

Also, Lady Hale stated, in a recent court case, that it was "the Department of Health and Social Care which asked the Law Commission to consider reforms to the law of surrogacy in the United Kingdom."

(I also think the same claim was made clear by Law Commissioner, Prof Nick Hopkins in the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme, discussing law reform of surrogacy, however, I cannot check as the programme has since been removed from BBC iPlayer.)

To clarify, in their response to me, the DHSC claim that there was a number of representations made to the Law Commission prior to July 2016:

"April 2016: The Law Commission made an initial approach to DHSC officials about the prospect of a broad legislative review of surrogacy legislation. This was in response to representation made to the Commission by stakeholders."

Due to these conflicting replies I think it would be helpful if you could provide a timeline of work in advance of July 2016 and a list of stakeholders involved prior to July 2016. Please include ALL stakeholders who made an approach or had conversations with your colleagues, on or off the record so to speak, who are working on surrogacy as part of the 13th Programme. As a stakeholder myself I am interested to know who was involved in lobbying for change.

As I think I have been making it clear throughout our correspondence but to put it plainly, I really want to understand the process and the people who were involved in initiating the proposed reform of UK law around surrogacy.

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

Thank you for your email of Monday 4 May, of which I acknowledge receipt.

I am dealing with your request and will respond in due course.

Yours sincerely

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission
Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk
Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

show quoted sections

Dear Spencer,
I send this gentle reminder to see if there is any progress on the List of Stakeholders as requested on 4th May.
Many thanks,
Lexi

Clarke, Spencer, Law Commission

Dear Lexi

 

I respond substantively to your email of 4 May below.

 

There is no conflict between the statements that have been made. Under the
Law Commission's Protocol with Government, we may only proceed with a
project where the department with policy responsibility in the relevant
area - for surrogacy, the Department of Health and Social Care - has
indicated that it has serious intention to take forward law reform in this
area. The quote from the 'How we consult' page to which you refer reflects
that.

 

Before we consulted publicly on whether to undertake a project to review
the law of surrogacy, via the public consultation on our 13th Programme of
law reform, we were, as you know, in discussion with the Department about
the possibility of a project to review the law in this area.

 

There is no existing timeline available, so we do not hold that
information. However, we were in touch with the Department about surrogacy
from around March 2016.

 

Before July 2016 the other stakeholders with whom we were in contact were:

 

Sarah Norcross (Progress Educational Trust)

Natalie Gamble Associates (law firm)

Dr Kirsty Horsey (University of Kent Law School)

Adem Muzaffer and Elizabeth Isaacs QC (barristers)

Anne-Marie Hamer (solicitor)

Brilliant Beginnings (surrogacy organisation linked to Natalie Gamble
Associates)

Surrogacy UK (surrogacy organisation)

A member of the public

 

It is possible that there was contact with other stakeholders about which
we no longer hold records – for example, in the email account of a former
member of the team.

 

If you are not content with the manner in which we have handled your
request for information you can ask us to conduct an internal review of
the request. Please contact Sade King, our FoI co-ordinator, who will
explain and initiate the internal procedure for you. We ask that your
request for a review is made within two months of the date of this letter.

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request you have a
right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

 

t. 0303-123-1113

w. [1]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

Spencer Clarke | Law Commission

Lawyer | Property, Family and Trust Law Team

1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.53, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG

(access via 102 Petty France)

Tel: 020 3334 3152 | Web: www.lawcom.gov.uk

Email: [2][email address]

 

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
[3]Privacy Notice

 

 

show quoted sections

FAO: Sade King

Dear Law Commission,

I am writing to request an internal review of Law Commission's handling of my FOI request 'Public Consultation on proposed changes to the Surrogacy laws in the UK.

My concerns are as follows:

1. The stakeholders lists provided by the Law Commission throughout the FOI show bias as a number of legal firms, lawyers or solicitors financially benefit from surrogacy arrangements as well as the non-profit matching agencies as membership fees paid by people looking to find a surrogate mother. For example, Natalie Gamble runs a law firm that deals with surrogacy arrangements and runs Brilliant Beginnings which serves as "UK agency which helps surrogates and intended parents come together and pursue surrogacy". Additionally, Surrogacy UK has employees who have directly benefitted through surrogacy as their children have be born from surrogacy. No anti-surrogacy are present and this is evident in the public consultation questions.

2. The public consultation document is detailed but at 502 pages and 118 questions which are complex and cumbersome. For a truly wide-ranging response from the general public the consultation document should have been simplified and more heavily promoted in all areas of society so to garner responses that represent all views.

3. By not sharing meeting minutes or detailed objectives, either between government departments, the law firms they met with or the individuals who advised them. The Law Commission has not been transparent in discussions that have taken place.

4. The Law Commission met with campaigning group Stonewall but no women's groups were consulted prior to the public consultation being launched to the general public.

5. The Media Plan provided by Oasis focuses on LGBT groups, including the media publications chosen and the potential partners/influencers listed. Again no women's groups were involved.

Overall, the process the Law Commission undertook, prior to releasing the consultation to the public, was biased and the Law Commission have failed to seek balance in the opinions they have represented.

The Law Commission appears to have deliberately excluded women (whose bodies are required for surrogacy) and the questions within the consultation indicate that the recommendations that will be made to the Department of Health and Social Care have already been decide upon.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

I kindly request a full and unbiased internal investigation.

With thanks and kind regards,

Lexi

LAWCOM (FOI), Law Commission

This is an automatic acknowledgement of your email, which is being dealt
with. If we require further details from you, we will contact you again
before we send you a substantive reply.

Thank you,

Law Commission

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
[1]Privacy Notice

 

show quoted sections

Smith, Sarah, Law Commission

Dear Lexi,

 

I am writing in response to your email of 29 May, which requested an
internal review into the handling of your FOI request. My name is Sarah
Smith, and I will be responsible for conducting the internal review.

 

I believe it would be useful to clarify the scope of the review. On
reading your request and your previous correspondence with the surrogacy
team, it appears that one of your five points relates directly to a
previous FOI request. That is point (3):

 

3. By not sharing meeting minutes or detailed objectives, either between
government departments, the law firms they met with or the individuals who
advised them. The Law Commission has not been transparent in discussions
that have taken place.

 

I am proposing to limit my review to the handling of your request for the
meeting minutes you requested on 17 September 2019, and the decision not
to disclose those minutes. For reference, the minutes were of meetings
with the following organisations:

 

•             Brilliant Beginnings (2)

•             British Association of Social Workers (1)

•             COTS (1)

•             Donor Conception Network (1)

•             Hope Springs Fertility Law (1)

•             NGA Law (1)

•             Members of the Royal College of Midwives (1 meeting and
spoke at RCM national conference)

•             Stonewall (1)

•             Department for Education (2)

•             Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2)

•             Government Equalities Office (1)

•             Home Office (1)

•             Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (2)

•             Ministry of Justice (1)

•             Evidence session with All-Party Parliamentary Group on
Surrogacy

 

Your other points appear to relate more broadly to the conduct of the
surrogacy project. They will therefore be considered by our Chief
Executive under our complaints process, rather than as part of my FOI
internal review. I have copied him into this email.

 

Could you please confirm whether you are happy to proceed as I have
outlined above? Once I have received confirmation from you, I will aim to
complete the review within twenty working days. Your other points will be
considered by the Chief Executive within the same timeframe.

 

Kind regards

 

Sarah Smith

Law Commission FOI Review Officer

 

show quoted sections

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for your email. I confirm that I accept your suggestion but would ask that point 5 (the Oasis Media Plan) be included in your internal investigation as this formed part of my FOI.

In addition I would be grateful if you could send to me the formal complaints procedure that the Law Commission applies in situations like this. I appreciate that parts of my request for an internal investigation fall outside of the remit for your internal investigation and that I may need to submit my complaint via another method.

(I was aware that I can write to a physical address with my complaint regarding the consultation, it would be easier if I could progress that on email. )

With thanks and kind regards,

Lexi

Smith, Sarah, Law Commission

Dear Lexi,

Thank you for your email and the confirmation. The Law Commission has previously received very few complaints, and as a result it does not currently have a formal complaints procedure document that I can provide to you. In practice complaints are considered by the Chief Executive. Your email requesting an internal review has already been passed to the Chief Executive, so it is not necessary to resubmit the complaint.

I would be happy to include the media plan within the scope of the FOI internal review. It would assist me if you could identify what aspects of the FOI request handling you are unhappy with; I can see from your correspondence with the surrogacy team that the document was disclosed to you on 28 November last year. To the extent that your concern relates to the content of the document, as opposed to the handling of the FOI request, that will be considered by our Chief Executive.

Kind regards

Sarah Smith
Law Commission FOI Review Officer

show quoted sections

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for clarifying the complaints process and that the matter is already being dealt with by the Chief Executive. I await a response directly.

With regards to the Oasis Media Strategy, my questions and concerns are outlined as follows.

1. Objectives: "Communications Objectives" 1,2 and 3 are blank. Has this document been redacted?
2.a. Audience insight - Target Audiences: "Surrogates" were targeted and so this shows bias. (The matter of the phrasing being 'surrogates' and not 'surrogate mothers' is a minor point.) Did the Law Commission assume that only women who have been surrogates, or intend to be surrogates be the only view point applicable to the proposals?
2.b."LGBT community, particularly gay males (couples and single people)". I would be interested to know and understand why this community was targeted and why 'gay males' were of interest 'in particular'?
2.c. "Also targeting lawyers, doctors (?) ..." the doctors is noted as a question mark, I noted a lack of medical research provided in the consultation document and wondered if consultation document was promoted in medical journals (such as the BMJ), or were any other methods used to reach the medical community? This wasn't noted in the Media Strategy from Oasis.
2.d. "...and younger adults (18-24)" what were the reasons for targeting this age group specifically for the consultation?
3. Social Media - as per 2.d, the Media Strategy from Oasis gives figures on social media use for 16-24 not as specified above as 18-24. Please note point 6 in relation to this.
4.a. Readership of LGBT magazines - the following are noted as potential target publications for the LGBT community; Pink News (online only), GayStarNews (online only), Attitude (magazine and online), Gay Times (magazine and online) , OutNews (online), SoSoGay (online), Vada Magazine. No women's magazines are noted in the Media Strategy, (however Spencer Clarke did note one article, Grazia magazine carried a personal piece on Sophie Berensiner), please can you explain why the numerous media outlets that cater directly to women were not incorporated into the Media Strategy.
4.b. 'Attitude' magazine was highlighted in the copy of the document sent to me, please can you explain why that was?
5. Potential partners/Influence - again there is a distinct focus on gay male celebrities (again this was highlighted in green in the copy shared) and this focus on LGBT shows again in the timeline noted under "w/c 3 weeks to launch".)
6. Overview - "Multi-channel approach with a greater emphasis on social media than usual. In addition to our own channel, we will look to prime a range of celebrities including those outlined above to do social media posts about the consultation." By emphasizing social media "more than usual" was a deliberate attempt made to exclude groups who would not be proficient with social media due to their age or free time spent on social media? If a range of celebrities, as noted above, were to be the 'face' of the campaign ahead of the public consultation, was it not exclusionary of the Law Commission to leave out people who don't follow those celebrities on social media and so would miss out on seeing posts/tweets/updates?
7. Scoring - Metric outputs/outcomes - again this is blank, the document appears to be redacted in this area. As this document was shared after the public consultation was closed was the document shared in a redacted form, if so why?

To clarify, I find it disappointing that not only were there a multitude of options in Women's Media open to the Law Commission, in both print, TV and online, to promote awareness of the public consultation during the time it was open to responses, but also concerning that the Law Commission did not explore these opportunities despite traditionally, women's media being open and supportive of surrogacy in general, both historically and currently.

The Media Strategy is clearly targeting the LGBT community. Why were women's organisations and groups overlooked as 'stakeholders' as well as the audiences served by women's media? Please can you explain why males/gay males were thought to be the most appropriate group to highlight law reform on surrogacy, which weighs heavily on a woman's body, the majority of the 'work' (creating and birthing a human life) involved in surrogacy must be done by women; women's bodies and women's reproductive systems.

I look forward to your reply.

With thanks and kind regards,
Lexi

Golding, Phillip (Law Commission), Law Commission

Thank you for your further email to the Commission about our Surrogacy
work. As agreed with Sarah Smith, point 3 will be dealt with separately as
part of an FoI request. The remainder have been considered by me as a
complaint. As we have previously mentioned, we do not have a formal
complaints process as such complaints are very rare and tend to get drawn
to my attention if they do arise. I therefore try to deal with such things
personally, wherever possible.

 

We have also received your further email asking more detailed questions
about the Communications Plan. With the exception of the point about
redaction, which will also be dealt with by Sarah (although for the sake
of ease, I confirm it was not redacted), the other points are more about
handling. I will therefore deal with these as a complaint.

 

In terms of dealing with your complaint, I have spoken with the Surrogacy
team in some detail and asked them to provide me their specific input on
each of the points raised. I have then considered whether there are any
areas where we fell short as an organisation. Overall, it is my view that
we have not. As I shall describe in more detail throughout this response,
the key to successful consultation is to adapt as more information comes
to light so that one can tailor one’s approach accordingly. I believe we
did that in this instance, ensuring that we reached a broad range of
groups, for example we demonstrated that we were receptive to securing
additional views after consultation had closed. I believe this flexibility
and openness demonstrates that we have held a fair, transparent and very
effective public consultation. That is important to me and to the Law
Commission more generally as much of our reputation is, I believe, formed
on principles of genuine consultation.

 

I will now cover each of your queries in more detail:

 

1. The stakeholders lists provided by the Law Commission throughout the
FOI show bias as a number of legal firms, lawyers or solicitors
financially benefit from surrogacy arrangements as well as the non-profit
matching agencies as membership fees paid by people looking to find a
surrogate mother. For example, Natalie Gamble runs a law firm that deals
with surrogacy arrangements and runs Brilliant Beginnings which serves as
"UK agency which helps surrogates and intended parents come together and
pursue surrogacy". Additionally, Surrogacy UK has employees who have
directly benefitted through surrogacy as their children have be born from
surrogacy. No anti-surrogacy are present and this is evident in the public
consultation questions.

 

It is correct that we spoke to law firms who charge for advice and
representation in surrogacy and related matters, such as NGA Law, as you
note.  It is also correct that Surrogacy UK members benefit from entering
into surrogacy arrangements, in the sense that they are able to have
children, or expand their families.  I do not regard the Commission as
having spoken to surrogacy organisations or law firms involved in
surrogacy as evidence of bias. It is essential that the Commission speaks
to stakeholders with knowledge of the law and practice of surrogacy in the
UK and elsewhere.

 

Some organisations or individuals to whom the Commission spoke are either
neutral on the position of surrogacy, oppose it, or oppose reform in the
area. For example, we spoke to representatives from the Christian Medical
Fellowship and the Alliance Defending Freedom, who oppose surrogacy. Other
organisations, like the British Association of Social Workers or CAFCASS,
will take a child’s rights-focused approach. We would take the view that
it is not necessarily possible to say that an organisation or an
individual is pro- or anti-surrogacy; it is a more complex picture than
that. 

 

However, our approach to the project must also be understood in the light
of our terms of reference. These are to consider reform of the law around
surrogacy to improve it – it is not, nor ever would be, the job of the
Commission to decide whether or not surrogacy is socially or ethically
acceptable. That would be the responsibility of the Government and,
ultimately, Parliament. Therefore, we did not focus in the initial stages
of the project on the views of those who would seek to prohibit all forms
of surrogacy.

 

2. The public consultation document is detailed but at 502 pages and 118
questions which are complex and cumbersome. For a truly wide-ranging
response from the general public the consultation document should have
been simplified and more heavily promoted in all areas of society so to
garner responses that represent all views.

 

We acknowledge that our Consultation Paper was lengthy. However, there are
a number of reasons this was unavoidable in light of the aim and scope of
the project – which is intended to design a comprehensive new system for
surrogacy law. We conduct public consultations with a view to gathering
sufficient information to produce a draft Bill for Government to consider.
This necessitates asking detailed and sometimes quite technical questions.
Further, the current law of surrogacy is particularly complex because it
involves many disparate areas of law, including:

1.            Elements of family law, such as legal parenthood and
parental responsibility, with which many readers may be unfamiliar.

2.            Family Court procedure, including the current system of
applying for a parental order.

3.            Child law, including children’s rights to information about
their origins and the law governing the assessment of children’s welfare.

4.            Medical law, including the regulation of gamete donation and
consent to medical treatment.

5.            The law of birth registration.

6.            Immigration and nationality law.

7.            Employment law, including maternity and paternity pay and
leave.

8.            International law concerning surrogacy.

 

We were particularly mindful of the need to hear from stakeholders without
legal knowledge throughout the surrogacy consultation. We therefore took
the following steps to make the public consultation more accessible:

1.            We published a 24-page illustrated summary of our key
provisional proposals in both English and Welsh, available on our website
and in hardcopy on request.

2.            We published an Easy Read version of the summary on our
website.

3.            We held a series of 10 public consultation events in person
across the UK which were free to attend in the following locations:
Manchester, Exeter, Brighton, Cardiff, Newcastle, Birmingham, Edinburgh,
Aberdeen, Belfast and London.

 

Promoting the consultation paper to the public is an important aim of the
communications work that the Commission undertakes. Our Head of
Communications considers that the launch of the surrogacy consultation is
one of the most successful that the Commission has achieved, in terms of
the coverage achieved. We secured a number of significant pieces of
coverage.

 

On the BBC, we secured a prime slot on the Today programme which helps
sets the news agenda for the day ahead; on the Emma Barnett show on Five
Live; and on a BBC Scotland TV news bulletin (The Nine) and in an online
story. The Daily  Mail, Guardian, Telegraph, Independent, Times, Metro and
Huff Post all covered the announcement of the launch of the consultation.
This coverage was supported by our social media work; during the
consultation period we tweeted regularly to encourage people to attend our
consultation events, and to announce that we had extended the consultation
period. Several stakeholders including academics, journalists and
campaigners also  published their own social media content.

 

3. By not sharing meeting minutes or detailed objectives, either between
government departments, the law firms they met with or the individuals who
advised them. The Law Commission has not been transparent in discussions
that have taken place.

 

This point is being dealt with separately as a Freedom of Information
request, as per the email exchange with Sarah Smith.

 

I have been made aware that we omitted to respond to one of your enquiries
from 17 September last year which asked for “Meeting minutes from the
evidence session with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Surrogacy”. We
don’t hold any such minutes. You may wish to try Surrogacy UK, who supply
the secretariat for the Surrogacy APPG.

 

4. The Law Commission met with campaigning group Stonewall but no women's
groups were consulted prior to the public consultation being launched to
the general public.

 

Prior to the consultation being launched we contacted leading women’s
rights charities the Fawcett Society, and Engender (based in Scotland),
and the Scottish Women’s Convention, who told us they would await the
publication of the Consultation Paper, as well as professional
organisations concerned with women’s health (for example, members of the
Royal College of Midwives).

 

Consultation is an iterative process and we adapt our approach during the
consultation period as we learn about the interests of specific
stakeholder groups, and become aware of other stakeholders with whom we
need to engage. This is the approach that we followed during the
consultation period for the surrogacy review. Therefore, during the
consultation period we contacted other organisations focused on women’s
rights and health, and met the charity Maternity Action. Following the
conclusion of the consultation period, we contacted three women’s rights
organisations who had responded to the consultation. These were Nordic
Model Now!, End Violence Against Women Coalition and A Woman’s Place UK.
We had not previously been aware of these organisations’ interest in
surrogacy. We held meetings with the first two of these organisations.
These meetings, and the responses that we have received from these and
similar organisations, and many individuals, have helped us to hear a
broad range of views. These will help to shape the project moving forward.

 

It was important that we met Stonewall, who are widely recognised as the
UK’s leading LGBTQ organisation, given that same-sex male couples (or
single GBTQ men) represent a significant proportion of those who enter
into surrogacy arrangements.

 

5. The Media Plan provided by Oasis focuses on LGBT groups, including the
media publications chosen and the potential partners/influencers listed.
Again no women's groups were involved.

 

As we said in our response to your request for disclosure of the media
plan, this document was in draft and not finalised. Instead, it was used
as the basis for discussions between the team and the Head of
Communications, which were not documented. There is some focus in the plan
on reaching an LGBT audience. This was because we understand that a
significant percentage of those who enter into surrogacy arrangements are
same-sex male couples. We also note that the consultation did successfully
come to the attention of other women’s rights groups, whose members
contacted us in very significant numbers.

 

I set out below the points raised in your latest email. I am not going to
respond in detail to most as I believe that they can be taken largely
together as the simple point is that this document is as it is because
this was an early draft document which was never finalised. It has not
been redacted. Face-to-face discussions between the team and the Head of
Communications fleshed out a great deal of detail in-between that draft
and the launch of the consultation. Many of our projects are fast-moving,
under significant pressure of time, and it is not unusual for Comms plans
not to be finalised. They are living documents, designed to prompt  the
start of a discussion about communications. The early draft did initially
focus on an LGBT audience for the reasons already covered, however, as
already mentioned, consultation is an iterative approach and we adapted
our communications through the consultation period, and beyond, to ensure
we heard a broad range of views.

 

I also wanted to mention that there may, if I understand correctly, be a
bit of confusion about the status of “Oasis”. Your emails suggest, I
think, that it may be some form of Media Organisation who provide advice
to the Law Commission. It is not. Oasis, is simply the (admittedly
slightly jargonistic) term used to describe the structure of all
Government Communications, which the Law Commission follows. It stands for
Objectives, Audience Insight, Strategy, Implementation, Scoring. 

 

1. Objectives: "Communications Objectives" 1,2 and 3 are blank. Has this
document been redacted? It was not redacted.

2.a. Audience insight - Target Audiences:   "Surrogates" were targeted and
so this shows bias. (The matter of the phrasing being 'surrogates' and not
'surrogate mothers' is a minor point.) Did the Law Commission assume that
only women who have been surrogates, or intend to be surrogates be the
only view point applicable to the proposals?

2.b."LGBT community, particularly gay males (couples and single people)".
I would be interested to know and understand why this community was
targeted and why 'gay males' were of interest 'in particular'?

2.c. "Also targeting lawyers, doctors (?) ..." the doctors is noted as a
question mark, I noted a lack of medical research provided in the
consultation document and wondered if consultation document was promoted
in medical journals (such as the BMJ), or were any other methods used to
reach the medical community? This wasn't noted in the Media Strategy from
Oasis.

2.d. "...and younger adults (18-24)" what were the reasons for targeting
this age group specifically for the consultation?

3. Social Media - as per 2.d, the Media Strategy from Oasis gives figures
on social media use for 16-24 not as specified above as 18-24. Please note
point 6 in relation to this.

4.a. Readership of LGBT magazines - the following are noted as potential
target publications for the LGBT community; Pink News (online only),
GayStarNews (online only), Attitude (magazine and online), Gay Times
(magazine and online) , OutNews (online), SoSoGay (online), Vada Magazine.
No women's magazines are noted in the Media Strategy, (however Spencer
Clarke did note one article, Grazia magazine carried a personal piece on
Sophie Berensiner), please can you explain why the numerous media outlets
that cater directly to women were not incorporated into the Media
Strategy.

4.b. 'Attitude' magazine was highlighted in the copy of the document sent
to me, please can you explain why that was?

5. Potential partners/Influence - again there is a distinct focus on gay
male celebrities (again this was highlighted in green in the copy shared)
and this focus on LGBT shows again in the timeline noted under "w/c 3
weeks to launch".)

6. Overview - "Multi-channel approach with a greater emphasis on social
media than usual. In addition to our own channel, we will look to prime a
range of celebrities including those outlined above to do social media
posts about the consultation." By emphasizing social media "more than
usual" was a deliberate attempt made to exclude groups who would not be
proficient with social media due to their age or free time spent on social
media? If a range of celebrities, as noted above, were to be the 'face' of
the campaign ahead of the public consultation, was it not exclusionary of
the Law Commission to leave out people who don't follow those celebrities
on social media and so would miss out on seeing posts/tweets/updates?

7. Scoring - Metric outputs/outcomes - again this is blank, the document
appears to be redacted in this area. As this document was shared after the
public consultation was closed was the document shared in a redacted form,
if so why? It was not redacted.

 

Overall, the process the Law Commission undertook, prior to releasing the
consultation to the public, was biased and the Law Commission have failed
to seek balance in the opinions they have represented. The Law Commission
appears to have deliberately excluded women (whose bodies are required for
surrogacy) and the questions within the consultation indicate that the
recommendations that will be made to the Department of Health and Social
Care have already been decide upon.

 

We do not agree that our pre-consultation work was biased, or that we
failed to seek balanced opinions within the terms of reference set for the
project. We also completely reject the assertion that we have deliberately
excluded women – many of those who we have met or heard from in
consultation are women from many different professions, backgrounds and
with different connections to surrogacy. They include women have acted as
surrogates, women who are intended parents, family members and friends of
surrogates and intended parents, the children of surrogacy arrangements,
lawyers, doctors, midwives, social workers, academics, psychologists,
activists and other members of the public.

 

It is incorrect that we have decided on the recommendations that we will
make to Government. The purpose of the consultation paper is to seek views
from the widest range of stakeholders possible. This allows us to evaluate
whether or not to proceed with the provisional proposals as they are set
out in the consultation paper, or to revise these proposals and, where we
have asked open questions, to decide on the appropriate policy
recommendations. All the proposals in the consultation paper are
explicitly provisional, as is evident from the way in which they are
drafted.

 

I have tried to deal with all aspects of your complaint as fully as I can.
Overall, I believe that the Commission has undertaken a very successful
and open consultation, adapting our approach to ensure we received a broad
range of views.

 

Yours sincerely,

Phil Golding

 

 

Phil Golding | Law Commission
Chief Executive
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.54, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, SW1H 9AG (Access
via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3452 | [mobile number]
Email: [1][email address]

 

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
[2]Privacy Notice

 

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Smith, Sarah, Law Commission

1 Attachment

Dear Lexi,

Thank you for your email. Please see the attached letter.

Kind regards

Sarah Smith
Law Commission FOI Review Officer

show quoted sections

Dear Phil Golding,

Thank you for you detailed and personal response. I have also received the response from Sarah Smith regarding point 3. Please pass on my thanks to Sarah for this, I accept the decision not to publish the meeting minutes.

For points 1,2,4,5,6,7, regarding the OASIS Media Strategy, I understand that the ‘live’ copy I received from Spencer Clarke was not redacted but I would be grateful to receive a final copy, or the latest revision, which may provide further information in connection to the points I raise as my concerns have not be directly addressed.

In addition I would be grateful for copies or links to articles you mention from The Daily Mail, Guardian, Telegraph, Independent, Times, Metro and Huff Post. If you are able to point me to the audio on iPlayer for the Five Live, BBC Scotland and BBC Today programme those would also be useful. I would also like to read the content produced by the stakeholders you mention (the journalists, academics and campaigners) if possible. I appreciate this may take some time to compile, so I thank you in advance.

I understand that in the initial stages of the project you didn’t widen the scope of the project to include those who “seek to prohibit all forms of surrogacy” as you sought to ‘improve’ the 1985 Surrogacy Act, rather than repeal it. However you did speak to those with, a neutral position or to those in opposition, and you mentioned the broad range of views that you secured following the closure of the consultation. I am pleased that you met with a number of women’s groups that focus on maternal health, during the consultation, I understand this was in direct response to their submitted responses. Did you consider them as stakeholders in the drafting of the consultation paper? Could they have been approached for input prior to the public launch?

I am also pleased that women’s groups Nordic Model Now, EVAW and a Woman’s Place were contacted, but they were not involved in the initial stages or considered stakeholders in the drafting of the consultation. How long after the closure of the consultation were they contacted? I’m also pleased to hear that the consultation came to the attention of other women’s rights groups despite their involvement not being specifically sought initially.

As you mention that you received responses from women who have been surrogate mothers, whilst respecting individual's privacy, can you confirm whether you heard from any surrogate mothers who had negative experiences?

With regards to seeking the views from same-sex male couples via Stonewall, were same-sex female couple’s views also discussed at the meeting?

I have no further points to raise at this time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you again for your time.

Yours sincerely,

Lexi

Golding, Phillip (Law Commission), Law Commission

2 Attachments

Thanks for this Lexi. I think we are now approaching the point where we
have covered most of the points you have raised and there's not much more
I can usefully add about how we went about running the consultation for
this project. I will try to respond to the further points you have made
but hope we will be able to draw a line under this correspondence before
too much longer.

 

Media strategy: We have found a slightly updated draft which one of our
Research Assistants (who has since left the organisation) has added to.
This is now attached. As mentioned before, we often use these drafts to
aid discussion and they remain unfinalised. That happened in this
instance.

 

Web links: I set those out below.

 

Maternal health point: I am not sure I can add much more to what I have
said previously; consultation is an iterative process and we reacted as
views surfaced of which we were previously unaware and sought to engage
accordingly.

 

Contact with women's groups post-consultation: We had contact with two of
the groups shortly before the close of the consultation period, and
contacted all three on 5 November 2019, less than one month after the
consultation period closed.

 

Those with experience of surrogacy: I gather we had a range of responses
from those who have experienced surrogacy, however, given that we will be
releasing responses in due course I will not pre-empt that for reasons
already given in relation to the release of consultation responses.

 

Stonewall meeting: I think our focus more generally was on male same-sex
couples’ views as it is unlikely that a female same-sex couple would use
surrogacy – we have not heard of any such cases. Hope that helps.

 

We have tried to be as transparent as possible about how we went about the
surrogacy consultation process and the extent to which we have sought to
react to views which emerged throughout the process. I believe we have
consulted effectively and shown a willingness to adapt and be flexible so
as to ensure a wide range of views are able to shape the next stages of
this project.

 

Best wishes,

Phil

 

 

Phil Golding | Law Commission
Chief Executive
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.54, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, SW1H 9AG (Access
via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 3452 | [mobile number]
Email: [1][email address]

 

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
[2]Privacy Notice

 

show quoted sections

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