Organ Tourism and Cadavers on Display Bill

My Lords, we must change the United Kingdom’s connection with unethical and unacceptable organ transplantation and harvesting. Successful organ transplants are an outstanding achievement. Such medical procedures, carried out with proper safeguards, save lives. I wholeheartedly support the practice. I am the President of the Conservative Muslim Forum, which has over 1,500 members. We are holding a meeting in September to explain the organ donation system in the country and how organ transplantation harvesting through force and financial coercion and without proper consent being obtained is totally unacceptable. This Bill, from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, intends to discourage Britain’s involvement in these practices. We must all give it our utmost support.

We appreciate that there are people who are in vulnerable situations and who are targeted or exploited for the value of their human tissue. In certain parts of the world, this practice is more common than in others. United Nations human rights experts are extremely alarmed by reports of organ harvesting in China. A tribunal chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC found that in China, the practice of organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has gone on for several years. The Uighurs and Falun Gong practitioners have been particularly subjected to these inhumane practices.

I have spoken on this issue in your Lordships’ House previously and I had hoped that it had stopped. The practice of purchasing human organs places a price on somebody’s body or on their value as a human being. This is a violating of humanity, and ethically and morally wrong. Furthermore, this Bill will provide accountability. Patient-identifiable records should be initiated so that we can identify UK citizens travelling for these procedures. The system is shrouded in secrecy. This Bill will introduce suitable and effective regulations to identify the culprits who engage in these practices. Although the United Kingdom’s involvement may be small, this extensive trade is worth millions of dollars. Gangs and traffickers operate all over the world, exploiting people in underdeveloped countries to obtain organs for profit and without any proper aftercare.

I agree with the proposal set out in the Bill that appropriate consent should be made mandatory for cadavers that are imported and displayed in the country. The physical and financial coercion involved in sustaining this practice is inhumane and should be stopped. Through this Bill we can prevent the practice growing and close existing gaps in our legislation.

Link to full debate in Hansard.