LEGISLATION covering in vitro fertilisation and surrogacy will be introduced before the end of the year. The legislation requires the setting up of a statutory council on reproductive technology, which will deal with moral, ethical, scientific and legal issues. A spokesman for the Health and Welfare Branch said the council would be responsible for regulating the practice of reproductive technology, including inspecting and licensing clinics and other premises, drawing up a code of practice and advising the branch on technology and the need for further legislation. She said a provisional body would be established in August to advise on the legislation and to begin work on a draft code of practice, before the statutory council came into effect. The move follows a report published in 1993 and endorsed by the Governor-in-Council last September. The report found that about one in 10 Hong Kong couples was infertile - making a total of about 50,000 unable to conceive - and recognised that a variety of options were available, including scientifically assisted conception and adoption. It recommended the establishment of a controlling body comprising representatives of several areas including the medical, social work, and legal professions, with a separate ethics committee. The statutory council proposed by the Government will fill the role of this controlling body, and in accordance with the report's findings, will oversee registrations of medical institutions and define a code of practice for them to operate, as well as maintain a central registry of semen donors. The report also recommended the legislation to control scientifically assisted human reproduction should include provisions to protect the legitimacy of children. While finding that it was 'not regarded as appropriate or desirable to ban scientifically assisted human reproduction in Hong Kong' the report recommended there should be guidelines laid down on what was considered acceptable research and urged the Government to impose a complete ban on commercial surrogacy. Surrogate pregnancies should only be allowed in the case of genetic in vitro surrogacy where the commissioning couple provide both the egg and the semen fertilised outside the surrogate mother. It recommended that the consent of both the surrogate mother and her husband should be required and that surrogacy should only be regarded as a last option for infertile couples. Proper counselling both before and after the event should be provided for all four parents to avoid any problems, while women who were unmarried or who had never given birth should not become surrogate mothers.