Debates between Baroness Mallalieu and Lord Winston during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 16th Mar 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard _ Part 1 & Report stage: _ Part 1

Health and Care Bill

Debate between Baroness Mallalieu and Lord Winston
Lords Hansard _ Part 1 & Report stage
Wednesday 16th March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Health and Care Act 2022 View all Health and Care Act 2022 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 114-IV Marshalled List for Report - (14 Mar 2022)
Lord Winston Portrait Lord Winston (Lab)
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My Lords, I have repeatedly opposed assisted dying and it is well known that I feel, and have felt, strongly about it. I also feel that this is quite a different situation. I do not want to argue my case here, but serious issues are raised by the amendment. I am not persuaded that voting for it would make a difference, because the Commons can still consider what we have said this evening. However, it is clear—I completely agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer—that we as a Parliament have to discuss this issue.

I remember, when I first came into this House 27 years ago, in the Prince’s Chamber there was a notice recording an Act of 1620, I think—under Charles I—that argued that we should not use intemperate language in the Chamber. In this situation, I believe this is inevitably important. I regret very much that the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, spoke in the terms he did. I do not think it is helpful to the argument. I think it probably destroys his argument to some extent. What the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, says is a very different matter—and I regard the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, as a friend. Above all, it seems that as a Parliament we have to discuss this, and this is something burgeoning in the public. Therefore, it is a duty to discuss this in Parliament. If we happen to introduce this Bill, which the Commons can then consider, whether it is passed at this stage or not, that would be utterly justifiable, and I support this amendment.

Baroness Mallalieu Portrait Baroness Mallalieu (Lab)
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My Lords, this amendment surely goes to something of importance to all of us in this House, whether we support assisted dying or not, because it is about the role of Parliament and the proper exercise of the duties of an elected Government. The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that Parliament, and not the courts, should consider whether in some circumstances assisted dying should be legal. But so far, this Government have fought shy of doing so either of their own volition or by giving Private Members’ Bills time. There is now clear evidence that the public opinion has changed and wants Parliament to face up to this question and express its will. Yet the door is effectively being shut in the face of that opinion.

Dying is surely an issue of general public importance as it concerns every single one of us. Yet this subject is consistently and currently being starved of the oxygen of time in Parliament in order for the Government to avoid a controversial topic. This amendment does not require the Government to take sides or promote a Bill themselves; it merely requires them to prepare and lay a draft to enable Parliament to consider any possible change properly. I shall support this amendment, and I would hope that noble Lords, whatever their views on assisted dying, do the same, because this amendment is essentially about democracy.