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Coroner’s and Justice Bill – Second Reading in the House of Lords

The Coroner’s and Justice Bill, which proposes the first substantial changes to the law of murder in over fifty years, and the Suicide Act since it received its Royal Assent in 1961, will be read for a second time in the House of Lords on Monday (18th May). Second Reading is an opportunity for members of the House of Lords to debate the principles of the Bill. Amendments to the Bill will be put down at the later stages of Committee and Report.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying says:

“The law as it stands is a mess. At present people are forced to take desperate decisions at the end of their lives, such as travelling abroad to die, asking loved ones or doctors to assist them, or attempting suicide alone.

“80% of the public support a change in the law but so far Parliament has been slow to act. However, Peers now have an opportunity to rectify this. Whilst full reform will have to come via a Private Members Bill, there is an opportunity to clarify the law as it stands on accompanying a loved one abroad to die, and to set out who should and shouldn’t face prosecution.

“This would make the situation better for everyone. Safeguards will protect against abuse and greater clarification will ensure that needless prosecutions do not take place.

“The time has come for Parliament to address a law which clearly isn’t fit for purpose. We hope they will have the courage to take this opportunity to improve patient choice, and safety, at the end of life.”