All 1 Lord Fairfax of Cameron 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]

Lord Fairfax of Cameron Excerpts
2nd reading
Friday 22nd October 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Fairfax of Cameron Portrait Lord Fairfax of Cameron (Con)
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My Lords, as the holder of a Scottish peerage, I particularly welcome and congratulate my noble friend Lady Davidson on what was, as one expected it to be, an excellent maiden speech. I agreed with everything she said this afternoon on this subject.

Listening to this debate, it is clear that it is personal stories that are most compelling. Fortunately, I have no such personal experiences but, like the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Carey, I strongly believe in compassion. I am heartened by the many letters that I have received, although they are distressing and heartrending, to say nothing of the more than 80% of the public in favour of assisted dying.

In my three minutes, I will make two points and one plea to the Government. My first point is about palliative care. Contrary to what some have said, palliative care clearly does not deal effectively with all relevant end-of-life cases. We have heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Black, about the experience of her daughter in this regard. I quote from a letter written by seven senior doctors, including a former president of the BMA, which says:

“No amount of investment in Palliative Care could eradicate the small but significant number of horrific deaths that some people are currently forced to endure”.


My second point is about the inequity of the current position. As some noble Lords have already said, approximately one person a week currently travels to Switzerland to end their life at a cost of about £10,000. That financial barrier, and other practical barriers, clearly make it impossible for very many people to do so, so many are forced to end their life much sooner than they would otherwise choose to do. This Bill would give some dying people—those falling within its remit—the choice to die at a time and place, surrounded by their loved ones if possible, of their choosing.

Finally, I make a plea to the Government. Clearly, without government support this Bill is going nowhere. Even if there is a majority in favour of a change in the law this afternoon, this will run into the sand. Therefore, as requested by the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, can the Government make time for legislation on a free vote, to respect the will of the more than 80% of the public who are in favour of assisted dying?

I end with the words of five faith leaders:

“There is nothing sacred about suffering, nothing holy about agony”.