All 1 Baroness Mallalieu contributions to the Assisted Dying Bill [HL] 2021-22

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Fri 22nd Oct 2021
Assisted Dying Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading

Assisted Dying Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Ministry of Justice

Assisted Dying Bill [HL]

Baroness Mallalieu Excerpts
2nd reading
Friday 22nd October 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Mallalieu Portrait Baroness Mallalieu (Lab)
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My Lords, I strongly support this Bill. On 18 July 2014, we debated a similar Bill in this House, introduced by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer. I have been haunted ever since by part of a speech by the late Lord Judd, who read out a letter which had been sent to him:

“My uncle, a foreman toolmaker and a strapping six-footer who played football for the works team, developed cancer of the spine. He screamed until all his strength was gone, then he whimpered like a puppy. Twenty-four hours before he died his wife implored their GP to stop his pain. The GP replied: ‘I dare not give him any more morphine. It would kill him’. Twenty-four hours later the cancer had killed him”.—[Official Report, 18/7/14; col. 884.]

Intolerable and inexcusable suffering have continued ever since, because Parliament has so far failed to grasp this nettle. If the figures on the number of people affected given in the report from the Office of Health Economics are right, something like 6,000 people die unsatisfactorily or having had inadequate pain relief every year in the United Kingdom. By my calculation, that means that some 36,000 people have suffered since we failed to pass a Bill of this nature around six years ago.

To those who oppose the Bill for fear that the vulnerable, disabled, elderly or infirm will feel under pressure, either internal or external, to take this step, I say that the fears they express are precisely those which two separate doctors and experienced High Court judges will have in mind when examining each case individually. However strong your personal view, whether based on religious belief, personal experience or strong convictions about the sanctity of human life, is it right for you as an individual to insist that your view prevails when it will prolong intolerable suffering for someone else who happens to hold a different view?

The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, has done this House and the country a great service by introducing this Bill, but it should not be a Private Member’s Bill. It should be a free-vote issue debated in Government time and I hope that on all sides of this House and in the other place pressure will be brought to bear to see that this happens.