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SPUC expresses deep disquiet as Government forces euthanasia bill through Commons

14 December 2004

SPUC expresses deep disquiet as Government forces euthanasia bill through Commons Westminster, 19:00, 14 December 2004 - The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has expressed deep disquiet that the Government has refused to reverse the euthanasia nature of the Mental Capacity Bill and tonight whipped its MPs to force the Bill through a sceptical House of Commons. Paul Tully, SPUC general secretary, commented: "The vote of 118 against the Bill at Third Reading reflected the reluctance of MPs to accept the Government's assurances about an alleged understanding with Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff that the Government would amend the Bill in the House of Lords to exclude euthanasia. "The Commons was in uproar during the Bill's Report Stage when Government officials circulated correspondence between the Lord Chancellor and Archbishop Smith 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 Lord Chancellor's letter to Archbishop Smith gives no indication of the text of any proposed amendments. It's all smoke and mirrors. The Lord Chancellor's ambiguous proposal crucially refers to excluding decisions only "where the motive is to kill" rather than intention to kill. What matters in the eyes of the law is the intention to kill - motive is simply what moved the person to kill, which might be a misguided notion of compassion. The Government rejected Report Stage amendments, backed by 200 MPs, 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. Mr Tully concluded: "In the light of today's farcical proceedings in the Commons, we urge the House of Lords to give the Bill and any new amendments by the Government strict scrutiny, with a view to rejecting the Bill unless the euthanasia nature of the Bill is reversed."

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