Lords debates Assisted Dying Bill at second reading
25 October 2021
Members of the Lords debated the main principles and purpose of the Assisted Dying Bill during second reading, on Friday 22 October.
The Assisted Dying Bill seeks to enable adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with specified assistance to end their own life.
Debate on assisted dying
Members discussed the key areas of the bill during the second reading debate.
End of life
In a wide-ranging debate, members covered the ethical issues involved. They often raised personal experiences of dying friends and relatives: a letter was read out from a member who has been staying in a hospice for end of life care.
Some members raised concerns about safeguards for vulnerable people, other members argued for freedom of choice at end of life.
Baroness Meacher (Crossbench), chair of Dignity in Dying and the bill's sponsor in the Lords, opened the debate.
Nearly 140 members took part, including:
- Barones Butler-Sloss (Crossbench), former head of the Family Division of the High Court
- Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England
- Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (Crossbench), Vice President of Hospice UK and Professor of Palliative Medicine
- Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Conservative), former Lord Advocate of Scotland and Lord Chancellor
- Baroness Harris of Richmond (Liberal Democrat), former Deputy Chair, Association of Police Authorities
- Lord Winston (Labour), doctor, scientist and broadcaster.
Other members taking part represented a wide range of professions and diverse personal experiences.
Lord Wolfson of Tredegar (Conservative), Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice, responded on behalf of the government.
What is a private member's bill?
This is a private member's bill, a type of public bill introduced by an individual member of the House (rather than the government). Public bills affect everyone. Private members' bills must go through the same set of procedures as other public bills.
Watch and read the debate
Explore further information
Read background on the bill in the House of Lords Library Assisted Dying Bill briefing.
Committee stage, the first chance for line by line examination of the bill, is yet to be scheduled.
Image: House of Lords 2021 / photography by Roger Harris
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