The period in which Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel is set is not precisely specified. There are references to the cloning program dating back to the 1950s. The location is England. Cloning actually was proved possible with Dolly the sheep in 1996, so Ishiguro is deliberately creating a science fiction parallel history.
Along with the general issues raised by cloning, Ishiguro introduces the ethics of so-called "designer genes" through which adults try to create genetically "superior" babies. The Morningdale scandal relates to a similar program, a type of genetic engineering that closely resembles medical experiments conducted in 1930s–1940s Germany. Based on the Nazi ideology of racial "purity," with the eugenics theories of heredity, Joseph Mengele and other physicians at Auschwitz and other death camps experimented on living Jewish and Romany ("gypsy") subjects, especially twins.
The discussion of the Morningdale Scandal and the entire premise of Hailsham helps to bring out the basic idea of social indifference. The first is how mainstream society is quite effective at "silencing out" that which it finds undesirable. In contrast to the confrontation of a reality in which a group of people are condemned to be "completed" and to exist only for the sake of another group's survival, the Morningdale Scandal seeks to demonstrate the ease with which individuals turn away from moral truths. This is reminiscent of Ishiguro's analysis of the rise of the Nazis in England on the outset of World War II in The Remains of the Day. In that setting, English society easily turned away from understanding the pure terror in the rise of Hitler and followed appeasement as an easier path. In the Morningdale scandal, the belief in embracing a condition of society where schools like Hailsham are simply not funded and the condition of the donors are left to be a silent that is "back in the shadows" becomes part of what society demonstrates itself capable of embodying. The condition of living life "back in the shadows" has made life for the donors far worse in the present tense than it was for Kathy and Tommy. In this, there is a sadness that the life of being a "complete donor" is better than being one whose path is to become one. It is in this where the Morningdale Scandal speaks to Ishiguro's belief of how social indifference and individual response defines much of the modern setting.