Lesbians are to gain the right to fertility treatment without the stipulation of a father being present, according to new government proposals.

Public Health Minister, Caroline Flint, told the Science and Technology Committee that the Government recognises the need for reform to the “need for a father” requirement which has been deemed “offensive” to unconventional families.

Ms Flint told MPs, “We are minded to retain a duty in terms of the welfare of the child, but there is less of a case for retaining the law in reference to a father.

“What’s important is looking at the family environment, whether in the traditional sense or a same-sex couple and the family they want to create. There’s less of a need for the reference to the father in that circumstance. That’s not to say that fathers are not important. What’s important is that the children are going to be, as far as we know, part of a loving home.”

It is believed that the “need for a father” will be replaced with “the need for a family” in a White Paper later this year, allowing single women and lesbians access to IVF.

Dr Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat member of the committee, who has led the calls to drop the need for the father provisions, said: “I’m pleased that after 16 years of licensed discrimination against solo mothers and lesbian couples there are signs that it will come to an end. On the welfare of the potential child, I hope that the Government’s new formulation will restrict the test to foreseeable serious medical harm based on evidence and not simply on prejudice.”