Dignity in Dying

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:44 pm on 8th December 2021.

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Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell Conservative, Sutton Coldfield 8:44 pm, 8th December 2021

I express my thanks to Mr Speaker for granting this Adjournment debate.

Assisted dying is an immensely sensitive and emotive issue of conscience over which each of us individually, as Members of this place, must wrestle, and which this House will have to address collectively before much longer. In my role as co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for choice at the end of life—I have the pleasure of co-chairing it with Karin Smyth in this House—I have had discussions with many colleagues, including the Prime Minister, and I know how seriously this issue is taken. I know that many colleagues are yet to come to a firm conclusion on it. I respect that position. I respect it not least because I have completely changed my mind on this issue since I arrived in the House of Commons. After listening to many constituents in my office in Sutton Coldfield, often with tears of solidarity in my eyes, as with inordinate sadness they have told me of the painful and undignified death of someone they loved, I have concluded that I want the law changed to benefit my constituents, to benefit those who I love, and possibly, indeed, to benefit myself.

Our constituents are, according to every single opinion poll over the past three decades, in strong support of this change in the law. I remind the House that the Bill introduced by the noble Lady Meacher in the other place, which has recently commanded their lordships’ support and builds on the consensus so painstakingly and skilfully assembled over many years by Lord Falconer, sets out that those who are within six months of the end of their life and who, in the opinion of two doctors and a High Court judge, have reached the decision independently and in sound mind that they wish to end their life to avoid the often undignified and extraordinary suffering that would otherwise assail them, should be able to do so.