Liz McInnes

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Liz McInnes is the Labour MP for Heywood and Middleton, first elected to Parliament at the 2014 by-election.

Ms McInnes studied biochemistry at the University of Oxford and the University of Surrey, and prior to her election worked as a senior biochemist at the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust[1].

Mitochondrial Donation

In February 2015 Liz McInnes spoke in the House of Commons debate on allowing mitochondrial donation, which would allow women who carried mitochondrial diseases to have genetically related children who would not inherit the disease. The process was sometimes referred to by the media as "Three Parent Children". Ms McInnes first set out some background:

"As we have heard, mitochondrial DNA makes up a tiny proportion of our total DNA. Unlike nuclear DNA, it does not pass on any personal attributes; it is purely involved in the chemistry of energy production. That is why, when there is a defect in mitochondrial DNA, it tends to affect organs that require a high amount of energy, such as the heart, muscles, brain and liver. All of our mitochondria are inherited from the egg and, as we have heard, researchers have worked on techniques to replace faulty mitochondria using those from a healthy donor. To refer to that donor as a third parent, as some have, is something of a misnomer. There are 37 genes in mitochondrial DNA, which is less than 0.01% of our total DNA. Altering the mitochondria will not alter a child's characteristics inherited from its biological parents, but it may provide a way to prevent a debilitating and sometimes fatal disease."[2]

She then addressed a criticism of the safety of the techniques based on a single case:

"Last night, it was my privilege to attend the debate on the safety and ethics of this technique and to hear Professor Doug Turnbull, who leads the research team at Newcastle university, talk about the 15 years of work done by his team and the extensive safety checks that have taken place during those years. In the Chinese case to which my hon. Friend Robert Flello referred, the treatment was carried out by an American clinician on a single patient in China. The patient became pregnant with triplets, one of whom was aborted and the other two were born prematurely and died. Importantly, the clinician attributed the outcome entirely to multiple pregnancy and obstetric complications, not to the method of conception. I do not accept that that one case represents a proper clinical trial."[3]

She then noted that if the Bill was passed mitochondrial donation would still be regulated, and made an observation on the nature of medical research, possibly intended to address the criticism that there were still unanswered scientific questions about the procedures:

"In safety, the UK has a robust regulatory framework. A vote in favour of the motion will not in itself open the way for mitochondrial donation to be used in clinics. It will simply enable the HFEA to consider each individual family's request for treatment on a case-by-case basis, taking expert scientific and medical advice and licensing the procedure only if the evidence shows that that is appropriate.
"I am lucky enough to have worked at the Royal Oldham hospital, where the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born. When IVF was first introduced, there was no certainty that it was completely safe. Only after the first babies were born using the technique could scientists be completely reassured that their detailed research had led to the birth of healthy babies, but to this day research continues on IVF, just as more research must be done on mitochondrial transfer. That is the nature of science: it is a continuous process; it does not stand still."[4]

Ms McInnes, along with a majority of MPs, voted in favour of allowing mitochondrial donation[5].

European Medicines Agency

In October 2016, Ms McInnes contributed to a Commons debate on the European Medicines Agency, looking at the effect of the UK's exit from the EU on medical research. The entire debate, including Ms McInnes' contribution, can be read at:


Asked about her views by a local church in the run-up to the 2014 by-election:

"Abortion is a very emotive issue, and I fully understand that people hold very strong views, both against abortion, and in favour of the law as it stands. I do not support a change in the current law, as I think any woman, who may be in a very difficult situation for a number of reasons, should have the right to choose. That days of ‘backstreet’ abortions are thankfully behind us, and I think a change in the law would risk a return to such practices. I understand people may have different views to me, and I fully respect their right to hold different views."[6]


  2. Hansard:
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