JUSTICE – VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA – 11 November 2008

Dr Julian Lewis: Will the hon. Gentleman [Dr Evan Harris] tell us how many people who have assisted others to commit suicide have actually suffered a term of imprisonment, suspended or otherwise?

Dr Harris: Did the hon. Gentleman say “assisted suicide” or “assisted death”? I assume that he is talking about assisted dying.

Dr Lewis: If the hon. Gentleman wishes to quibble about the point, I am speaking in the context of what he is discussing. Will he answer my substantive question? How many people who assisted that which he wants them to be able to assist without consequence suffered a term of imprisonment, either actual or suspended?

Dr Harris: I do not know the answer to that question, but –

Dr Lewis: I suspect that it is zero.

Dr Harris: But I do not [know] whether the hon. Gentleman is happy that people are doing that and not being imprisoned, or whether he thinks that it is bad that people are not being punished for what is strictly an offence. Not knowing whether they are liable to be prosecuted and imprisoned is a traumatic experience for many, particularly the recently bereaved.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Maria Eagle): I can give the Chamber the opportunity to hear the answer to the question asked by the hon. Member for New Forest, East (Dr Lewis), which is zero.

 [For Julian's speech in this Debate, click here.]