Fertility laws drop need to consider role of father

Single women and lesbian couples will be able to seek fertility treatment without having to consider a father for their children under new laws approved by MPs last night.

Attempts by the former Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, to insist that clinics take account of a child's need for a father and mother when deciding on treatment were roundly rejected in a free vote that cut across traditional party lines.

The Commons voted by 292 to 217, a majority of 75, to throw out the cross-party amendment, despite claims that it was "common sense" to involve both sexes in children's upbringing.

Under the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, women seeking fertility treatment will no longer have to take into account the role of a father figure. Instead, the rules will be replaced with references to "supportive parenting".

MPs also threw out a Conservative attempt to insist on "a father or male role model" when clinics help women to conceive.

In an impassioned debate yesterday members of all parties cast aside usual political loyalties to clash over questions of discrimination, parenthood and the very nature of family life.

Iain Duncan Smith, told MPs that children who grew up without a father were more likely to fail at school or have problems with drugs and alcohol. He said: "We are saying come on, this is common sense. All we are saying is 'Take consideration of the need of a child for a father' not 'If you don't have a father you will never get treatment'. It's only considering it."

Geraldine Smith, Labour MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said: "To most people outside this House you are just talking common sense. They would wonder why we are even having this debate.

"Is there any wonder people think politicians are out of touch with ordinary people when we have debates such as this. It's nonsense to suggest that we shouldn't take into account the need for a father."

But her Labour colleague Emily Thornberry, the MP for Islington South and Finsbury, warned: "I always worry when people start saying they are only applying common sense, because so often common sense is a cover for discrimination, narrowness and an inability to face the 21st-century."

The veteran Conservative MP, Sir Patrick Cormack, said: "Whatever may be the case in Islington, in Staffordshire it's thought normal for a child to have a mother and a father. Do you think it is as normal for a child to have two mothers?"

Tory Mark Simmonds said: "It is important to send through this particular piece of legislation a message to the country that fathers are important in the welfare of the child."

His party's amendments were: "about retaining a male influence in a child's upbringing, providing a balanced outlook to society, " he said.

Click here to have your say

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before