My Lords, I want to make two points. First, speaking as a statistician, I want to refer to a number of recent social surveys on this subject. They all come out with between 75% and 80% in favour of a Bill along the lines of today’s Bill. The leading organisation, the National Centre for Social Research, in its last survey two years ago, reported 81% in favour. This is just to highlight public opinion on this subject, which clearly ought to be in our minds today.
I have long been interested and concerned about this incredibly complex and important topic, have spoken in a number of recent debates here, and confirmed my views elsewhere. On balance, I am totally in favour of the Bill of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, and I am sure that when we have detailed, proper debates on the subject, we will be able to amend and improve it.
However, I pick out one crucial issue. I am now in my 90s and obviously think even more about this difficult subject. As I do so, I have not the slightest idea about how I would feel if I were unfortunate enough to suffer from a terminal illness, apart from the obvious suffering, which, if at all possible, should be avoided. One thing I know for certain, however, even at this stage, is that I would want to have a choice—a clear, voluntary choice. If there are ways out of such a terrible situation, I would not want to be blocked by the law—which is the present situation—and would, to put it mildly, be very upset.
In short, among all the issues that have already been well covered in this debate, the one that I would pick out for sure is that if and when anyone gets to the position of having a terrible, terminal illness—given all the safeguards in the Bill—they should have every possible choice and no legal barriers put in their way.