MPs to accuse infertility watchdog of usurping the powers of Parliament

The country's fertility watchdog will be criticised by MPs this week for being undemocratic and out of touch with the public.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority will be attacked for making rulings said to have shown contempt for Parliament. The Commons' Science and Technology Select Committee will call for a review of its powers.

A report from the MPs will question a series of decisions taken by the authority, including the ruling that allowed an IVF clinic to try to create a baby capable of donating bone marrow to a three-year-old child who is critically ill.

The authority gave permission for an embryo to be chosen that was compatible with Zain Hashmi, who is suffering from a rare blood disorder. Campaigners who opposed the decision have won the right to appeal and argue in court that the authority had no power to license embryo selection by "tissue typing".

MPs will report that some of the watchdog's recent rulings showed contempt for Parliament. The report will allege that it made use of powers that should be the preserve of elected MPs.

The select committee will recommend an urgent review of the 1990 Act that created the authority, arguing that scientific developments in the world of fertility had superseded the law as it stands.

The authority has the power to license embryo research and clinics that offer in-vitro fertilisation treatment for couples who have problems conceiving or are infertile.

The MPs will criticise examples of poor practice at IVF clinics, including a mix-up at an NHS centre that led to a white couple producing black twins this month. Another embryologist in Hampshire is facing charges of keeping embryos without a licence.

The all-party committee, which is led by Dr Ian Gibson, a Labour MP and biologist, will say the authority has become heavy-handed and has misjudged its communications and consultations with the public.

In March, Ruth Deech stood down as chairman and was replaced by Suzi Leather, an academic who was formerly deputy chairman of the Food Standards Agency.

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