Telford MP calls for assisted dying law inquiry
There should be an inquiry into the law on assisted dying, according to a Shropshire MP who has backed changes to legalise it.
Lucy Allan, MP for Telford, was speaking after her party colleague, former Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies, said he expected changes in the law within ten years – but was opposed to them.
Ms Allan said she agreed that a change in the law is coming, and called on the Ministry of Justice to launch an inquiry into the issue.
Her comments came as former Shropshire lecturer Noel Conway, who has motor neurone disease and led a high-profile, but ultimately unsuccessful legal challenge to the law on assisted dying, said more MPs are changing their minds on the issue.
She said: "The former MP for Montgomeryshire, Glyn Davies, is right to predict that a change in the law on assisted dying will come to the UK, as it has done to an ever-growing number of jurisdictions around the world.
"I support the right of a terminally ill person to choose how to manage the manner of their death.
"Many terminally ill people and their families have campaigned for assisted dying to be legalised in this country.
"Under current law family members and even compassionate professionals can be prosecuted if an act to relieve suffering of someone who is dying, leads to any acceleration of the moment of death. The public is strongly supportive of a change in the law and it is important that our legislation keeps pace with changes in our society and social attitudes."
Ms Allan said that protections would have to be built into new laws to avoid exploitation of the vulnerable, but argued it was possible to do so.
"It is of course crucial that any new laws responsibly balance the rights of those who wish to have control and choice at the end of life, with robust protections for the vulnerable," she added.
"Evidence shows that it is possible to protect against abuses of the system, which would of course require detailed and careful legislation. The courts have repeatedly found that this is a matter for Parliament and not for the courts to decide on a case by case basis."
Ms Allan said that a number of MPs supported the idea of the new parliament looking at the issue.
"We saw five new states across America and Australia introducing safe, compassionate legislation in 2019 and New Zealand is likely to pass a similar law this year," she said.
"I am confident that the UK will follow suit in time and with a new Parliament it is now time to revisit this issue.
"Together with a number of MPs from across the House, I am urging the Ministry of Justice to hold an inquiry so that the full impact of the current law and potential changes can be examined in full. I call on colleagues from all parties and from across the country to join us on this important issue."
In a letter to the Shropshire Star, Mr Conway again urged changes to the law.
He said: "I agree with Glyn Davies (January 2) that the legalisation of assisted dying is inevitable.
"But that is where our shared opinions end. I see this change as a hugely beneficial one for people like me, who have terminal conditions that cause us a great deal of suffering, for our loved ones, who are put in terrible positions by our cruel laws, and for society as a whole, which would be far better protected under assisted dying legislation than the current system.
"The vast majority of the British public is on my side, and I know that more and more MPs are changing their minds on the issue.
"Politicians would do well to listen to those they serve, stop resisting inevitable change and instead contribute to ensuring that future legislation is as safe and effective as possible."
Mr Davies, who stepped down as an MP at the last General Election, said he expected the law to change within the next 10 years, but was opposed over fears about pressure on people to consider it as a method of ending their life.