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Assisted Dying - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:17 pm on 6th March 2017.

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Photo of Viscount Craigavon Viscount Craigavon Crossbench 8:17 pm, 6th March 2017

My Lords, the message I derive from this debate is that, on this issue, the tide of history is continuing to flow one way. We have heard how things are changing. In this country, as we have heard today, we have used for a long time the uncontested figure of 80% plus for support for changing our law on assisted dying. We all know the many European countries, in particular the Dutch, which have faced up to this issue and the demand from those who choose it, while we are continuing to allow unnecessary suffering which palliative care cannot alleviate.

The Californian development is a significant example, building on the now firm foundation of Oregon, which itself has been adopted in other American states. There are similar developments in Australia: later this year the government of Victoria will introduce a Bill to legalise choice in assisted dying for terminally ill people. Other states are likely to follow. The Government of New Zealand have been taking extensive consultation on assisted dying.

Finally, as in the most recent such Bill in this House—which we did not have time to complete—I believe that there is a majority in favour of change here, but I hope that the other House will not want to continue much longer on the wrong side of history.