Amendment 292E

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill - Committee (10th Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 10:15 pm on 22 November 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Masham of Ilton Baroness Masham of Ilton Crossbench 10:15, 22 November 2021

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell of Beeston, for introducing this amendment. When I read about the terrible murder of Sir David Amess while he was attending his parliamentary surgery, I was very shocked and saddened. Later, I learned that his parish priest was denied entry by the police to the crime scene to administer the last rites. I was also shocked and surprised then. After the disgusting and tragic murder of Sarah Everard by a member of the police force, I hope they will show some contrition by understanding this sensitive amendment. We need kind, honest, well-trained police to undertake their vital work to keep everyone safe.

David Amess was an honourable, brave man. He will be remembered as an exemplary Member of Parliament. If someone else had been murdered instead of David, I feel that David would be bringing an amendment similar to this to Parliament.

The sacrament of the last rites, which is also known as extreme unction or anointing the sick, is for people who are gravely ill or close to death. It is the sacrament for the remission of sins, to strengthen and comfort the soul, and food for the journey. While not every Catholic will request the last rites to be administered by a priest, many do. It can be of utmost importance to some.

I would like to thank Alasdair Love from the Public Bills Office, who helped to put together this amendment. I am pleased that Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Dame Cressida Dick, have agreed to establish a joint group to study these issues. I hope that training for police officers on this matter will be included. This gives some hope. I add that the coronavirus has made this sensitive and important matter even more complicated, but problems are for solving. I hope that providing the sacrament of healing to the dying who desire it will become more available. I look forward to the Minister’s reply and thank all who support this amendment.