UK Politics

David Cameron 'not convinced' by assisted dying bill

Nurse and patient holding hands Image copyright Science Photo Library

David Cameron has spoken of his "worry" about legalising euthanasia ahead of a debate on assisted dying in the House of Lords.

At Prime Minister's Questions, he told MPs he was "not convinced that further steps need to be taken".

He said was concerned "people might be being pushed into things that they don't actually want for themselves".

Labour peer Lord Falconer's bill on assisted dying is due to get its second reading in the Lords on Friday.

The former lord chancellor's bill proposes allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose to terminally ill patients judged to have less than six months to live.

The bill is expected to get a second reading in the Lords, but without government backing MPs are unlikely to get a chance to debate it in the Commons, meaning it will not become law.

Conservative MP Sir Richard Ottaway called for MPs to be allowed to debate the issue in the House of Commons.

'Needless suffering'

Speaking at PMQs, Sir Richard said: "In the recent case of Nicklinson on the question of assisted dying, Lord Neuberger, the president of the Supreme Court, said that Parliament now had the opportunity to consider reform of the law in the knowledge that if Parliament doesn't act, the courts may.

Image caption Lord Falconer's bill would legalise euthanasia in certain cases

"This could raise serious constitutional issues.

"Does he agree that whatever your views on the subject the other place [The House of Lords] is to be commended for having a debate, but what the public really want is a debate in this House?"

Mr Cameron said he was "happy" for a debate to take place in the Lords.

But he added: "For myself I am not convinced that further steps need to be taken. I worry about legalising euthanasia and people might be being pushed into things that they don't actually want for themselves, but by all means let's have the debate."

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has said he has changed his mind on the issue of assisted dying after considering cases like that of locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson and "the reality of needless suffering".

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