Posted by: Witch Doctor | February 5, 2010

Assisted dying – House of Lords debate


Following Sir Terry Pratchett’s Dimbleby lecture and the recent Inglis and Gilderdale cases, a short debate on assisted dying took place on Wednesday in The House of Lords.


It followed a question asked by Lord Warner.

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to holding an independent inquiry to examine the evidence relating to a change in the law on assisted dying for terminally ill adults.”

Here are a few quotes from those participating.


He appears to hold the view that citizens are confused by the law in this matter and that most want assisted suicide legalised for competent, terminally ill people.

He seems to be FOR assisted dying.

“I expect the Government to recognise that we now have a confused legal situation around death and dying that is very threatening to a growing number of people. They have a responsibility to try to facilitate some resolution of the confusion……

“The theme of my remarks today is why the Government need to bring in some wise and independent help to break the parliamentary gridlock.”

“Why do we need an independent inquiry or review? First, we have a mounting set of contradictions that produce far too much confusion for many citizens. Most people want to die in their own home with their family around them, and at a time of their choosing.”

“We have legislation that gives us the right to make living wills to stop doctors treating us, but we have little confidence that healthcare staff will always respect our wishes. Doctors’ leaders have satisfied themselves that they have a satisfactory system for giving patients doses of drugs that may kill them, but that that is okay if it is only a secondary consequence of relieving pain. That is what I call the nudge and a wink approach to putting you out of your misery-very British.”

“In the recent Gilderdale case, the judge criticised the CPS for prosecuting. That does not bode well for the DPP’s new guidelines. Personally, I think that Keir Starmer has done as well as anyone could expect with the poisoned legal chalice passed to him by Parliament and the Supreme Court.”

“We know that the law in this area is a mess because the Law Commission told us so in its review of murder law in 2006.”

“I do not expect the Government to bring forward legislation, but they should try harder to bring some greater order to the increasingly chaotic policy and legal situation. The position continues to change in other countries. We now have the experience of the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Oregon and Washington State to draw upon, with Montana likely to join them soon. The DPP’s guidelines are unlikely to produce stability. The Government’s own end of life strategy is incomplete in this area and will continue to cause the issue to be raised.”

More later….

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