Surrogacy law reform was debated by MPs in Parliament on Tuesday, with a clear message that progressive law reform is urgently needed. Andrew Percy MP, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on surrogacy, asked Minister Caroline Dineage about government policy on surrogacy and was supported in his call for positive law reform by MPs from the DUP (Northern Ireland), Labour Party and Scottish National Party.
Natalie Gamble was pleased to attend the debate and both NGA Law and Brilliant Beginnings were cited by Kirsten Oswald MP who said:
It is no wonder that the laws of 40 years ago do not meet the needs of families and people who wish to become families today. That is expressed very well by Brilliant Beginnings and NGA Law, which said:
“The law cannot comfortably deal with the modern realities of diverse surrogacy experience, and as a result the courts have stretched the rules to make orders crucial to safeguard children’s welfare…There are limits to how far the courts can evolve the law and some children (particularly those born to single parents) have been left without resolved parentage. Judges of the High Court Family Division have repeatedly and consistently expressed concern about UK surrogacy law.”
That is, of course, completely unacceptable. In any case, surely intended parents should not have to go through a cumbersome and lengthy court process in order to become their child’s legal parents.
The Minister, who welcomed the debate, confirmed that the UK government was supportive of surrogacy as a legitimate form of family building and appreciated that the law needed to be modernised.
The government, she said, had already taken steps to write official guidance (something Brilliant Beginnings helped the Department of Health author in 2018), to enact the remedial order which allowed single parents to apply for parental orders (following NGA Law’s human rights court ruling), and was continuing to fund and support the Law Commission’s vital work on the detail of law reform.
Although she could not comment on the Law Commission’s provisional proposals and pre empt the outcome of the consultation, the government was committed to the project. It also thought that pre-legislative scrutiny of any draft Bill may help ease its passage through Parliament.
It was wonderful to hear surrogacy supported so clearly and decisively in Parliament and such a strong government commitment to reform. We know there is a long way to go in working through the detail of any new law but these are all very positive steps in the right direction.
The Minister accepted clearly, on behalf of the government, that surrogacy reform is needed and that surrogacy should be supported. She said:
I want to make it clear that the Government recognise the value of surrogacy, which helps a range of people who might not otherwise be able to have children to create the family for which they so long. In that spirit of inclusiveness and equality, we look forward to updating the legal framework for surrogacy in the UK, to make it fit for the challenges of the future.
You can read the full transcript of the debate on the UK Parliament website
Read more about our campaign for surrogacy law reform.