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Parliamentary Report: June–September 2009

  • Frank Cranmer (a1) (a2)


The issue of assisted suicide has been a matter of considerable controversy. On 9 December 2008 the incoming Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, announced that he would not prosecute Mark and Julie James for taking their son Daniel, paralysed as a result of a rugby accident, to an assisted-dying clinic in Switzerland. At the same time, Margo MacDonald MSP has been attempting to change the law in Scotland, where assisting the suicide of another is a common law offence. During the Lords committee stage of the Coroners and Justice Bill Lord Falconer moved a new clause to make it legal to help another to travel to a country in which assisted dying was lawful, in circumstances where that person had made a formal declaration of intent to travel abroad in order to die and two doctors, independent of each other, had certified that that person was terminally ill and had the necessary mental capacity to make the declaration. For the Government, Lord Bach said that Ministers felt that the Bill was not the appropriate vehicle for changing the law on assisted suicide and suggested that if Falconer wished to pursue the matter further he should do so through a Private Member's Bill – and the new clause was duly defeated by 194 votes to 141.



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1 See (2009) 11 Ecc LJ 345–346.

2 HL Deb (2008–09) 7 July 2009 cc 595–636.

3 [2009] UKHL 45 (30 July 2009).

4 Available at <>, accessed 25 September 2009.

5 Available at <>, accessed 25 September 2009.

6 Transfer of Functions of the Charity Tribunal Order 2009, SI/2009/1834.

7 The provisions of the Charities Acts 1992 and 2006 which also apply to institutions other than charities are not included in the draft Bill because they form a separate subject in their own right.

8 Available at <>, accessed 12 September 2009.

9 ‘Mass card prosecutions put off until High Court rules on Act’ The Irish Times 1 September 2009.

10 Serving Scotland Better: Scotland and the United Kingdom in the 21st Century, available at <>, accessed 12 September 2009: see recommendations 5.2 and 5.3.

11 HC Deb (2007–07) 20 March cc 43–44 WS (emphasis added).

12 Available at <> accessed 29 September 2009: the relevant Regulations are 17 to 22.

13 Watt, Nicholas: ‘Jack Straw to outline Lords reforms but warns of 12-year delayThe Guardian 26 August 2009.

15 Aston Cantlow and Wilmcote with Billesley Parochial Church Council v Wallbank [2003] UKHL 37, [2004] 1 AC 546, HL.

16 See, for example, Catholic Care (Diocese Of Leeds) v Charity Commission for England and Wales [2009] Charity Tribunal CA/2008/0003, noted at (2009) 11 Ecc LJ 369.

17 Their evidence is available at <>, accessed 11 September 2009.

18 COM(2008) 426 final 2008/0140 (CNS), available at <>, accessed 23 July 2009.

19 COM(2008) 426 final 2008/0140 (CNS) 6.

20 Interinstitutional File: 2008/0140 (CNS) Brussels, 15 September 2009 13238/09 available at <>, accessed 26 September 2009.

21 HL Deb (2008–09) 9 July 2009 c 819.

22 Defamation Bill 2006: Committee Amendments 28 April 2009: Amendment 40.

23 ‘McAleese signs Bills into law’ The Irish Times 23 July 2009. The text is available at <> accessed 12 November 2009.


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