Our Man in Westminster
It has been instructive in recent weeks that the number of letters and emails I have received about refugees has been considerable but still far fewer than the number about the Assisted Dying Bill. Of course organised campaigns that ask people just to click on a website mean that such large numbers are easy to create, but what has been different about assisted dying is that both sides of the debate have been well represented.
It was a very good debate in the Commons, with many passionate and personal speeches.
I voted against the bill, and it was defeated by a much larger majority than many had predicted.
I suspect this means that Parliament will not return to the issue for a number of years and certainly not within the lifetime of this Parliament, which runs until 2020.
The conclusion I draw from the debate is that although there are imperfections and problems with the law as it stands, as is inevitable with any issue that crosses medical, legal, and ethical boundaries, the solution is not in a new law that would legalise euthanasia.
The problem with the bill was that it would encourage demand for such legalisation, which would be a huge shift in our attitude to the sanctity of human life.
The lives of the terminally ill and the frail are of equal value to anyone else’s.
They deserve equal protection under criminal law. The current guidelines of the director of public prosecutions are a well-crafted and sensitive way of advising prosecutors about what should constitute a criminal offence in this most sensitive area without decriminalising the assistance or encouragement of suicide.
I think the House of Commons has come to the right and sensible conclusion on the matter.