Organ Donation Debate

30/11/11

Orgnation Donation Debate - Westminster Hall Wednesday - 30 November 2011

Jonathan Evans: First, I should like to place on record my thanks to Mr Max Gabe Wilkinson, my former neighbour, who was the founder of the Kidney Research Foundation in Wales. More than 30 years ago, he signed me up to a donor card. I can say to Paul Flynn that, as the vice-president of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, I have been a declared donor ever since, and therefore this is no prelatory speech.

My concern is to maintain the integrity of organ donation, and confidence and trust in the system. In context of UK policy and its impact on what is happening in Wales, my remarks today will be limited to what has happened in trying to promote more organ donation through the DVLA website. As part of a policy that applies to all of the United Kingdom—the Minister is aware of my concerns because I have written to her—it is legitimate to say to people, “Do you wish to opt in to organ donation?” That new system has been in operation since 1 August, but in Wales, there is no capacity to say no. My hon. Friend Mr Williams put his finger on it when he said that there should be the option to say no. The Minister has helpfully written to me to say that there does not need to such an option because people can change their minds and decide to opt in later on. But if we are to have two separate systems, the option in Wales, as one of my constituents has written to me to point out, is that one cannot opt out if one is proceeding to declare a viewpoint on the DVLA website. Therefore, ultimately, if legislation is introduced in Wales—I am not expressing an opinion as to whether that legislation should be passed or not—there would have to be a different approach. Otherwise, one fundamentally undermines people’s ability to be confident that if they want to opt out, they can say so. They cannot exercise that choice on the current DVLA website.

Why is that important? It is important because we need to maintain that trust, and at the same time maintain the legal integrity of the system. Although it has been said that everything will be fine, and never mind about the legal competence, the issue relates to the position of the European Court of Human Rights. In the event of something going wrong, heaven forbid, we could end up with a negative situation in which the process that is adopted in Wales fundamentally undermines confidence in organ donation altogether. Those factors need to be in Ministers’ minds, and that is why I wanted to make a brief contribution to the debate.