Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill: Select Committee Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:46 pm on 10th October 2005.

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Photo of Lord Mackay of Clashfern Lord Mackay of Clashfern Conservative 11:46 pm, 10th October 2005

My Lords, we have certainly had a full debate, punctured only by a Statement of no doubt considerable importance. It did not extend our time beyond midnight, which the Chief Whip, with his usual skill, had managed to forecast.

On behalf of the Select Committee and myself I thank all noble Lords who have said they are grateful to us. We did our best to provide a basis for today's debate and the quality of the contributions that have been made have justified our feeling that we have succeeded in doing so. It is not my function at this stage to deal with criticisms of the committee's report, such as we omitted this, that or the next thing. Obviously there is nothing we can do about that now—we have finished—and it will be for those who wish to take up these issues to consider what, if anything, they should do about them.

In closing, I should say that all members of the committee were appreciative of what the Government have done. We had very clear evidence from officials from the Department of Health, including medical professionals, about the efforts being made to improve palliative care. We were very appreciative of that and believe that the Government have made a very useful improvement in that area. From what the noble Lord, Lord Warner, said, it looks as though we can anticipate more of the same. As a neutral I do not want to say anything about what other parties may have had—that was a slight deviation from the neutrality of the noble Lord, Lord Warner—and I do not seek in any way to deal with that. But we were appreciative. Palliative care is very important—we all realise that—and we await whatever happens in the future.

Many points have been made by your Lordships and I am sure that when the noble Lord, Lord Joffe, is considering what he will do next he will take time to consider what your Lordships have said and to see whether he can provide a perfect example for answering all the difficulties.

I very much thank all noble Lords. I do not think the Motion requires to be withdrawn because I did not ask for Papers. I asked that your Lordships should take note, and you have done that very fully indeed.