Rob Marris MP came first in this year’s ballot and will bring forward proposals supported by 82% of the public
Rob Marris has today announced that he will introduce a Private Member’s Bill on assisted dying to ensure there is a safeguarded framework to give terminally ill individuals choice over their end of life care.
The Wolverhampton South West MP came top in this year’s ballot for backbench legislation which means that a Second Reading debate for his Bill is due on the 11th September.
This Bill will essentially be the same as the Assisted Dying Bill introduced by Lord Falconer which made historic progress through the House of Lords last year, but ran out of time before the General Election.
Lord Falconer’s Bill unanimously passed Second Reading and during two days of debate at Committee Stage, peers voted against two amendments that were attempting to derail the bill. This was the first vote in Parliament for ten years and showed an almost two-thirds majority of peers who voted in support of the proposals. However, the Assisted Dying Bill came 21st in the House of Lords ballot in the new Parliament and so is unlikely to receive sufficient time to continue its progress in this parliamentary session.
The largest ever poll conducted on assisted dying in the wake of the Assisted Dying Bill’s success in the House of Lords found 82% of the public now support the proposals brought forward by Lord Falconer. The recent Populus poll of 5,000 people also found that 53% of respondents would feel more positive towards their MP if they supported assisted dying and 37% said it would make no difference. Only 10% would feel more negatively.
The last time assisted dying was discussed in the Commons was during a 2012 backbench committee debate on the DPP’s guidelines, while the last time there was a vote on the issue was in 1997.
Rob Marris MP said:
“The public are clearly in favour of a change in the law and it is right that Parliament now debates this issue. Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill won two key votes and showed there was clear support amongst peers for law change, the only barrier in the way was one of time. I will be bringing a Bill forward in the Commons in light of the success of Lord Falconer’s Bill and its unfortunate placing in the Lords ballot, which has denied peers the opportunity to finish what they started.
“Alongside the vast majority of the public, I am in favour of terminally ill people who are of sound mind having choice at the end of life. It is a choice that I would want for myself and I do not think we should be denying this to people who are facing an imminent death.
“The House of Commons has not voted on this issue for almost twenty years. While the prospects of getting the law changed are difficult without official Government support, this is an opportunity to show we in Parliament are not ducking our responsibility to the public and I look forward to continuing the case for a compassionate assisted dying law.”
Lord Falconer of Thoroton, said:
“Last year the Supreme Court put Parliament on a final warning to sort out the law on assisted dying, and not leave it up to the courts. The House of Lords listened and made genuine progress towards an assisted dying law, with almost two-thirds of peers voting in support before it ran out of time. Unfortunately, it looks increasingly unlikely that I will be able to bring the Bill back into the Lords any time soon due to its ballot placing and I am grateful to Rob Marris for continuing the campaign.”
Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said:
“It is great news that the House of Commons will now begin a debate on assisted dying which the public demand but have been denied because of parliamentary procedure. I welcome Rob Marris’s commitment to show compassion to dying people and give choice at the end of life. As the first Commons private member’s bill introduced on the issue it is a signal to the new Parliament that assisted dying is the pressing social issue of our time.
“With one person a fortnight travelling to Dignitas, and over 300 terminally ill people per year taking their own lives in this country behind closed doors, it is vital that Parliament no longer turns a blind eye. The Lords demonstrated it is now a question of how, not if, we change the law and I look forward to members of parliament discussing the best law to protect vulnerable people but crucially give dying people choice.”
For all media enquiries please contact Dignity in Dying Press Officer Mickey Charouneau at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7479 7732 / 07725 433 025.
Populus interviewed 5,018 adults aged 18+ online between March 11th & 19th 2015. Interviews were conducted throughout Great Britain and the data weighted to be fully representative of all GB adults.
A 5,000 sample nationally representative poll carries a margin of error of +/- 1.4% at 95% confidence.
Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill
The Assisted Dying Bill would legalise assistance to die for terminally ill, mentally competent people with a prognosis of 6 months or less under strict upfront safeguards.
The Bill was passed unopposed at Second Reading and secured a majority of support during its second day of Committee Stage when the Bill’s opponents moved an amendment to change the terminology of the Bill which was comprehensively defeated 106 – 179. A further amendment put forward which would restrict doctors who could consult with a patient was again defeated 61-119. Previously on the first day of Committee Peers had unanimously supported an amendment to introduce judicial oversight. The Bill subsequently ran out of time and came 21st in the ballot for this parliamentary year.
Dignity in Dying
Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.