Assisted dying is a complex and emotive issue and I know there are strongly held ethical and moral views on both sides of the debate. I appreciate you taking the time to share your perspective.
Currently the Government has no plans to review the law on assisted dying. Successive governments have taken the view that Parliament should decide on this issue and any change to the law would be a matter of conscience for individual MPs. I agree with this approach.
As part of the discussion on this matter, we must ensure that there will always be thorough and transparent consultation with the public and faith groups, and physicians and wider healthcare professionals must always be fully involved.
Assisted dying should not be an alternative to high-quality palliative and end-of-life care. While the UK is a world leader in this area, I recognise growing concerns at the lack of access to palliative and end-of-life care, with too many people missing out on quality support. Indeed, Age UK maintain that although the 65+ population accounts for 85% of all deaths, older people are often least likely to have access to specialist palliative care.
People deserve dignity in dying, and each person nearing the end of their life should feel confident and safe in the knowledge they will receive the very best care and be supported to die as peacefully and as painlessly as possible. With three-quarters of us likely to need palliative care at the end of our lives, it is vital we address these issues now.
The Government said any future debate on assisted dying should include evidence from clinicians, values-based and faith-based evidence from those who have a particular view on this subject, and evidence of the personal choices of those approaching the end of their life.
Bearing in mind all of the above, voting on assisted dying is a matter of conscience and I have always considered these views in the round. The last time Parliament was given an opportunity to vote on these measures I voted for legislation that would allow assisted dying and I will continue to support measures that are consistent with the approach I’ve outlined here.