Former Archbishop ‘out of step’ with C of E on assisted suicide

A former Archbishop of Canterbury has reiterated his view that assisted suicide should be legalised in the UK.

Speaking in the House of Lords on Monday, Lord Carey of Clifton lauded countries with liberal euthanasia laws.

A Bill to legalise assisted suicide was soundly defeated in the House of Commons in 2015 by 330 votes to 118.

‘Out of step’

Lord Carey admitted he was “out of step” with the Church of England, as he claimed that laws in Canada had put a stop to “the unnecessary prolongation of life, which for some is not worth the candle”.

He made the comments after Baroness Jay of Paddington had called for Parliament to hold another vote on the issue.

However Baroness Masham of Ilton, who uses a wheelchair and campaigns for disabled rights, said any change in the law may leave many older, frail and disabled people at “risk of family pressure”.

Responding for the Government, justice minister Lord Keen of Elie said: “As things stand, the will of Parliament as a whole is that there should be no change in the law.”


Lord Carey spoke out in support of assisted suicide ahead of the landmark 2015 vote at Westminster.

However, at the same time, the present Archbishop, Justin Welby, explained his strong opposition to changing the law.

He said: “It would be very naive to think that many of the elderly people who are abused and neglected each year, as well as many severely disabled individuals, would not be put under pressure to end their lives if assisted suicide were permitted by law.”


The Archbishop noted that his position “is not only my personal view; it is also the long-established view of the Church of England and almost all other churches and major faith traditions, as well as numerous groups representing the vulnerable”.

Under the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a person who intentionally encourages or assists the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, commits an offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

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