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Assisted Dying (No. 2) Bill

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 1:15 pm on 11th September 2015.

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Photo of David Jones David Jones Conservative, Clwyd West 1:15 pm, 11th September 2015

I will not give way, as we have very little time.

Secondly, the Bill provides that the person seeking the order should have a terminal illness and

“as a consequence of that terminal illness, is reasonably expected to die within six months.”

Medical experts have pointed out that it is very difficult to ascertain whether an individual will die within three months. One is reminded of the Scottish case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing and discharged from prison on compassionate grounds because he was not expected to survive a further three months, and that was on the evidence of highly respected oncologists. In fact, he survived a further two years and nine months. Irrespective of the merits of the release, that illustrates how difficult it is to assess how long a patient might live.

Thirdly, the Bill is totally silent about what inquiries should be made by the court on whether an order should be made. I intervened on Rob Marris on that point, and he replied that it was a matter for the court. I venture to suggest that when one is talking about whether or not a declaration permitting assisting dying is to be made, there should be strong guidance in the Bill on how the court is to make that decision. In other words, it looks very much like a rubber-stamping operation, which cannot be right.

Ethical questions are notoriously difficult, and most of us here in this House are not medical professionals. We therefore have to rely on medical ethicists and on medical practitioners and clinicians. We should all have regard to what the BMA and the royal colleges have to say. We should listen to hospices such as St David’s and St Kentigern, which serve my constituency. In this House, we should listen to people such as Dr Whitford and my hon. Friend Dr Wollaston, who clearly understand the issues. I urge all hon. Members to oppose the Bill.