ADEMAND for an inde . pendent commission to inquire into the working of the Abortion Act, made by Mr. Norman-St. John-Stevas, Conservative M.P. for Chelmsford, Essex, was refused in the House of Cornmons on Monday by Mr. Crossman, Secretary of State for Social Services.
Mr. St. John -Stevas's question was: "In view of the continuing and widespread professional and public anxiety on the working of the Abortion Act and the fact that abortions are running at the rate of over 1,000 a week, and as my amending Bill last session was only narrowly defeated, is there not an overwhelming case for an impartial inquiry into the whole issue?"
Mr. Crossman replied: "I would not have thought so. If you look at the working of the Act the encouraging fact is that the proportion of abortions carried out in the National Health Service hospitals has increased steadily in the year from 56 per cent in the first quarter to 65 per cent in the third quarter.
"It was the activities in the private sector which we were alarmed about."
In reply to Mr. David Steel, Liberal member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, Mr. Crossman agreed that it might be useful some time in the future to have a report from the Department on how they saw the working of the Act.
He added: "As a preparation I have asked the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Gynaecologists to send out a questionnaire to their members on the basis of which I hope to issue a report."