Assisted Dying

Thank you for contacting me about assisted suicide.

I appreciate your concern on this very sensitive issue. Coping with terminal illness is distressing and difficult both for the patient and their families. These cases are truly moving and evoke the highest degree of compassion and emotion.

I fully accept that suicide, assisting or encouraging suicide, assisted dying and euthanasia are all subjects on which it is entirely possible for people to hold widely different but defensible opinions. This is why the substance of the law in this area is not a matter of party politics but of conscience. Should the law in this area ever be altered, it is neither a matter for Government to decide nor a matter for the judiciary but ultimately a matter for Parliament and therefore it would be a free vote.

When the Second Reading of the Assisted Dying (Number 2) Bill was debated in September 2015 I, alongside 325 other MPs, voted against this Bill. That is more than half the House of Commons actively voting on a Friday against that Bill, which shows you how seriously this was taken.

Everyone would agree that terminally ill patients should receive the highest quality palliative support and end-of-life care and that they and their families should be certain that their end-of-life care will meet all of their needs. With that in mind I welcome the Department of Health and Social Care's End of Life Care Strategy which is intended to improve access to good quality palliative care and encourage the Government further to develop specialist palliative care and hospice provision.