Thank you for contacting me about the issue of assisted dying.
At present, there are no plans to change the law on assisted dying. This is an issue for individual MPs to decide rather than an issue of Government policy and as a result, at some future date, it is possible that an MP may attempt to introduce a Private Members Bill to change the law. The last occasion that this occurred was in 2015 and I voted not to change the law. The proposals were rejected in the House of Commons by 330 votes to 118.
Coping with terminal illness is distressing and difficult both for the patient and their families. The issue of whether to permit assisted dying is an extremely difficult one with a variety of competing views.
This is an important issue and we must continue to consider the issues surrounding assisted dying and look at the societal as well as the individual perspectives which arise. On the last occasion, the parameters provided in the Bill for enabling assisted dying were drawn tightly and would have affected only a very limited number of cases. A strong case was being made on grounds of humanity to permit this to pass. I believe that terminally ill patients should receive the highest quality palliative support and that those patients, and their families, should be certain that their end-of-life care will meet all of their needs.
However, I saw this issue in a wider context. Our judgement on this measure should be based on the principle, not on the presented boundaries for the application of that principle. On this basis, I was quite troubled by the proposal to make a change in the law that would have given official sanction to suicide in certain circumstances. The arguments from the medical profession and from those presenting ethical points of view weighed heavily with me. It is for these reasons that I decided to vote against the Bill in 2015.
If Parliament is asked to make future changes to the law on assisted dying at a future date, I absolutely commit to listening to all sides of the argument and keeping this difficult issue under review until then. Over the last two years, I have attended a number of events in Parliament held by those campaigning for and against the introduction of assisted dying. I will continue to do so this as well as reviewing any specific proposals which may be presented to Parliament at some future date.
Although I am unable to attend the debate on the 4th July as a result of pre-existing Parliamentary commitments, I will be sure to read the Hansard transcript of the debate and arguments made by those on both sides of the argument.
Many thanks for getting in touch.
Richard Fuller MP