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Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 12:46 pm on 11th September 2015.

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Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley 12:46 pm, 11th September 2015

It is a privilege to follow Albert Owen, and I agree with everything he has just said. I believe in dignity in death, but I also believe in the sanctity of life. We have heard powerful speeches from both sides today and we have all received many emails from constituents arguing both sides. We cannot agree with both sides. I remember that John Woodcock said that he was torn, but we must finally take a decision.

Like my hon. Friend Ben Howlett, I found the speeches of Dr Whitford and my hon. Friend Dr Wollaston, who both spoke with experience and authority, incredibly powerful. It is rare for people to be swayed in this Chamber—they come in with their minds made up—but my goodness me, what powerful speeches. I am sure that they have had an effect today.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer in 1978, the family watched him die a painful death. It was a bad death, and when he died, I said, “Thank God he has died.” As the hon. Member for Ynys Môn has just said, we should be putting far more resources into palliative care. We should admit that it is patchy and that some people have bad deaths, though that is not acceptable. I know that we put many resources into finding a cure for all sorts of diseases and conditions, but at times we have to recognise that a cure might be some time off and sufficient resources ought to be put in to ensuring absolutely the right amount of palliative care so that when people come to the end of their lives they are not in unnecessary pain. We must remember the relatives around them and the pain they feel in seeing someone who has looked after them for all their lives—their father, a strapping person—wasting away over a period of months and then dying. I went to get his last shot of morphine and I am absolutely certain that that was what pushed him over the edge, but at least he did it without unnecessary pain at that final juncture.

We say that people should not be put under undue pressure or feel they are burdens on their family. They should not feel, “Well, I have the choice, perhaps I should exercise that choice.” It is almost impossible to say that people with terminal conditions will not be pushed into an earlier death simply because they have that choice. At the moment, they do not. It is impossible to calculate how many people will say towards the end of their lives, “I think I am going to take that poisonous cocktail because I do not want to be a burden on my family and because it is costing them to keep me in a nursing home, with all that that entails.”

I pay tribute to Macmillan nurses, Marie Curie nurses and the hospice care in this country. I do not believe that Dignitas brings dignity to death; I think it brings a speedier death, and I ask the best minds that we have in the world: is that the best that we can offer?