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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

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Thank you,

Law Commission

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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

show quoted sections

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Lexi please sign in and let everyone know.