The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland, has told Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights that the Government has no plans to review the current law on assisted suicide.
Activists have been pushing for the current protections against assisted suicide to be removed, despite the risks to vulnerable people.
Buckland, who is also the Justice Secretary, confirmed that the Government does not “currently have any plans to initiate a review of the law in this area or to indeed publish a call for evidence”.
The Lord Chancellor made the comments during a session on the Government’s response to COVID-19 and the implications for human rights.
He said he personally holds “grave doubts” about introducing a change to the law which would be open to abuse.
Buckland cited court judgments which have “regularly said” that it is a matter for Parliament to decide, and he commented that it is not for Government policy to dictate.
Parliament last debated changing the law in 2015 when MPs voted against the plans by 330 to 118 in a crushing defeat for assisted suicide activists.
Ciarán Kelly, a Deputy Director at The Christian Institute, welcomed Buckland’s statement.
He said: “The elderly, the disabled and others would be put at grave risk if existing legal protections were removed. It is good to see that the Lord Chancellor and the Government recognise this.
“They are right to stand firm – not least at a time when so much is being done to protect the lives of the most vulnerable.”
Sanctity of life
At the end of last year, the High Court rejected an attempt to legalise assisted suicide.
Phil Newby – who has Motor Neurone Disease – argued that the current ban interfered with his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
But High Court judges refused the challenge saying the court is “not an appropriate forum for the discussion of the sanctity of life”.
Mr Newby made an appeal for a judicial review, but his request was denied earlier this year.