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Assisted Dying - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:00 pm on 6th March 2017.

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Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Labour 8:00 pm, 6th March 2017

My Lords, English law shows such an arrogant lack of compassion on this issue. In the Carter case in Canada, the Canadian Supreme Court set aside an identical law on three grounds: it forced people to go to an earlier death when they went to a jurisdiction that allowed assisted suicide; it manifestly infringed individuals’ right to dignity and autonomy at the time of their death; and the protection it gave to the vulnerable, which is vital, was overwide because it provided protection to too many when it did not need to be done in that way.

In the Nicholson case in our country, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Neuberger, said that the protection currently provided is less than the protection that would have been provided under a Bill that I proposed—less, because an investigation after death is a lot less protection than making sure a court said that it was okay beforehand. The time has come for this country to follow Canada, not with a great fuss or a great to-do, but to change the law to reflect what everybody wants: proper protection, but autonomy for people who want to die in the way they choose.