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Government ploy on Mental Capacity Bill causes uproar

14 December 2004

Government ploy on Mental Capacity Bill causes uproar Westminster, 17:28, 14 December 2004 - The House of Commons was in uproar when government officials circulated correspondence between the Lord Chancellor and Catholic Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff in which the Archbishop claimed that the Government has made a crucial concession on the Bill's legal effect of permitting euthanasia by omission. The Government attempted to unveil this correspondence in the middle of the debate in order to trump objections to the Bill. However many MPs were unable to obtain copies of the correspondence and this led to a sharp rebuke from the Deputy Speaker, who warned that such a thing should never happen again. The tactic almost backfired. The Government's majority was slashed when 200 MPs backed amendments which, while imperfect, represented concerns that the Bill would allow and even compel the denial of ordinary treatment, as well as basic care such as tube-feeding, from patients who can't communicate.

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