All 1 Baroness Noakes contributions to the Health and Care Act 2022

Read Bill Ministerial Extracts

Wed 16th Mar 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

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

Health and Care Bill Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Leader of the House

Health and Care Bill

Baroness Noakes Excerpts
Lords Hansard _ Part 1 & Report stage
Wednesday 16th March 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Health and Care Act 2022 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 114-IV Marshalled List for Report - (14 Mar 2022)
Lord Bishop of Durham Portrait The Lord Bishop of Durham
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I agree with those who have already spoken opposing the amendment. First, the amendment is not appropriate as a use of the legislative process accompanying this Bill through your Lordships’ House. There is a question of purpose. If opportunity for debate is the goal, we must underestimate neither the significance of the Bill of the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, in October and the thorough, careful and considered debate, nor the possibilities of calling for Committee. I would also support that time being given in this House. There are important constitutional questions which arise if the amendment enacted by this House does in fact instruct the Secretary of State in the other place to propose and introduce a draft Bill—as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has just outlined. If that is not the case—and if the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, is not advocating for this draft to be introduced—what is the purpose of the amendment?

Secondly, I am aware that the language of the amendment has some real problems. One example is “terminally ill”. We debated the importance of language at Second Reading of the Assisted Dying Bill. The phrase “terminally ill” is understood in a whole range of different ways in different parts of the world. Is there any guidance offered on the definition or scope behind the language in the draft Bill attached to the Secretary of State’s instruction?

The complexity of the issue in question is so great—and the lives of the people who are facing a personal debate of this kind, and feel that they would be particularly impacted, are so important—that this cannot be how we legislate on their behalf. We are on Report, so I was disturbed that the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, intervened when he did.

Baroness Noakes Portrait Baroness Noakes (Con)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, ordinarily I would not support a novel procedure which overrode the precedence of the ways in which we normally do business and in which the Government expect to direct how business is taken in both Houses of Parliament. But I have been increasingly concerned that the Private Member’s Bill processes, both here and in the other place, simply do not work. They do not work for controversial Bills. It is simple to thwart the progress of a controversial Bill both here and in another place—but particularly so in this House through the mechanisms which we have seen used.

This issue is so important: it is clear that there is strong body of opinion within the British public wanting to see this issue addressed in some way. We must find parliamentary time to make a proper decision on it. I accept what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, says about the unusual nature of a Minister having to lay a draft Bill which is not government business. But sometimes things are so important that we must find practical ways through them. I believe that my noble friend’s amendment is a practical way through a very difficult problem, and I urge all noble Lords on my Benches to ignore the Whip.

Baroness Smith of Newnham Portrait Baroness Smith of Newnham (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, in Committee, I asked whether the Minister—I think the noble Lord, Lord Kamall, was responding on that occasion—had thought about giving parliamentary time to the Private Member’s Bill. The proponents of the current amendment are suggesting that this is not about the Government bringing forward a piece of legislation, even though—as the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, pointed out—that is exactly what the amendment says. If the intention of the amendment is to request parliamentary time—and we really are looking only at proposed new subsection (2)(b)—could the Minister, in replying, consider whether parliamentary time could be given to the issue without damaging neutrality in any way? The amendment, as drafted, would require the Government to bring forward legislation in favour of assisted dying. An amendment which gives parliamentary time to the issue would be very different.