The (unelected) House of Lords today blocked a bill to allow terminally ill patients the right to be helped to die if they wished. I suspect that most readers of this blog, when weighing up the arguments, come to the conlusion that assisted dying should be offered as a humane and dignified alternative to those patients who want it. I say this because according to Dignity in Dying, a campaign group, over 80% of people agree.
So why has the House of Lords opposed it? Well, there are serious safeguards that would have to be put in place. No one should ever feel a ‘burden’ to the system and the decision to end your own life should never be taken likely. But these are things that everyone is agreed on, supporters and opposition alike. The real challenge comes from the usual culprits – purveyors of persceptive morality.
Don’t forget that there are still 26 bishops in the House of Lords. Today’s events demonstrate why they should be stripped, post haste, from unelected office. These are the same people who opposed contraception, and then opposed abortion, and now they are opposing dignified death out of dogma and the ultimate power complex – the belief that people’s lives should be mortgaged to ‘god’, against their own wishes.
“We are not autonomous beings” said the Bishop of London. So there you have it. We have Lords so you can be serfs.
I was under the impression that the House of Lords couldn’t actually block a bill from taking effect, but could only delay it for a time. Is that impression wrong, or is that all they did? If so, can’t the bill just be reintroduced later?
Actually, apparently, "The Parliament Acts cannot be used to force through legislation that starts the parliamentary process in the House of Lords"
So it appears that unless the Lords reverses its stance so far on this bill, and sends it to the Commons, which itself passes it, then nothing will become law in the near future. Essentially, we need the government to become interested in the issue.
Ultimately the Commons can use the Parliament Act to force through legislation – has happened only 7 times since 1911 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suspensive_veto#Use_of_the_Parliament_Acts) and in this case, the Lords have only delayed it for 6 months anyway. You are right, if the government wants to get it through, they can. Sadly though, they are remaining neutral at the moment, it’s a Lord’s Bill itself as I understand it.
The present setup means that controversial issues can go ping ponging between the Houses for years… equalising the age of consent for homosexual sex most notably was only passed using the Parliament Act in 2000. I guess it’s the principle of the thing… I find it all a bit offensive to have to play games with bishops, hereditary peers and other Lords and Ladies to get laws passed, even if it is only formality.
Dom always relieys on wiki, he’s addicted to it
Alex baby you rock my socks and smell my feet