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LibDems support Assisting Dying bills in Lords and Holyrood

November 8, 2021 4:38 PM

On Friday 22nd October, The Assisted Dying Bill passed through its Second Reading in the House of Lords after an exhausting debate of nearly eight hours.

Party policy, overwhelming adopted at September's Conference debate, supports the bill but allows parliamentarians to vote as they see fit.

Seven Liberal Democrat peers spoke during the debate, with a very strong majority supporting the bill.

Dick Taverne (HSLD Co-President until last year), Patrick Glasgow, Angela Harris, Jeremy Purvis and Sal Brinton spoke in favour. Sal Brinton's support, as the party's Health spokesperson in the Lords, is particularly significant.

Tim Clement-Jones and Julie Smith opposed the bill.

The bill was passed without a vote, as is traditional at this stage for House of Lords bills. The bill will now move to the Committee Stage, when the bill will be examined in detail and any amendments will be considered and voted on.

The mood in the Lords appears to have shifted dramatically in favour of reform in just two years since 2020, when Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill reached the Second Reading stage but went no further. A recent Yougov survey of MPs also indicates a solid majority of MPs now support reform - and support is strongest among the most recently-elected MPs.

All in all, the Bill's chances of passing through both houses and becoming law in England and Wales appear to be stronger than ever before.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, LibDem MSP Liam McArthur is leading the way: he submitted his Assisted Dying bill for Scotland in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd September and launched a consultation that runs until 22nd December.

Liam's Bill is also believed to have a good chance of becoming Scottish law.