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I am extremely concerned about that “conflict of interest”, as we in this place might call it.
Vulnerable patients would be left in a weaker position than they are now. The inclusion of a judge to effectively countersign a form confirming the doctors’ decision adds no protective value whatsoever. But wait; here in clause 8 is a provision that would allow the Secretary of State to issue at some future date—not before we have passed the Bill—a code of practice. A code of practice would relate to such critical matters as assessing a patient’s capacity or what counselling should be given, or recognising that depression might impair a patient’s judgment.
In other words, the Bill says to us, “Parliament, decide now and sign this blank cheque, and at some future date as yet unknown some safeguards may be considered.” That is wholly unsatisfactory. That will be too late. The deed will have been done. We will have changed the law. We will have crossed the Rubicon, from killing people being illegal to killing people being legal. That is not doing justice. We are here to protect the most vulnerable in our society, not to legislate to kill them. This Bill is not merely flawed; legally and ethically it is totally unacceptable and we must reject it.