Politician tearful as he reveals father’s suicide

Paul Blomfield
Paul Blomfield
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SHEFFIELD Central MP Paul Blomfield appeared close to tears last night as he revealed for the first time his father committed suicide after being diagnosed with lung cancer .

Labour MP Paul Blomfield said his father took his own life last July at the age of 87, by filling his garage with exhaust fumes.

He said his dad had watched many friends suffer for months before dying, and did not want to suffer the indignity of being unable to look after himself.

He said he was sure his father would not have killed himself if the law was changed so his relatives could have assisted his suicide, free from the fear of prosecution.

In a moving speech to the House of Commons, Mr Blomfield said his former RAF pilot father Henry - known as Harry - ‘couldn’t face the indignity of that lingering, degrading death’ when he took his life in July last year.

The MP for Sheffield Central admitted his own feelings were still ‘raw’ as he told his colleagues the law needed to be changed.

Mr Blomfield added: “I am sure he made up his mind soon after receiving a terminal diagnosis for lung cancer.

“But he still died prematurely and I am sure what drove him to end his life when he did was the fear that, if he didn’t end his life when he could, he would lose the opportunity to act at all.

“If the law had made it possible he could, and I am sure he would, have shared his plans and would have been able to say goodbye.

“He would have been able to die with his family around him - not alone in a carbon monoxide-filled garage.

“He, and many more like him, deserve better.”

Mr Blomfield’s father died on July 4 last year.

Just one month later his MP son was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour, for which he underwent surgery at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. He has since made a full recovery.

Mr Blomfield spoke during a debate on whether assisted suicide should be legalised.

MPs were told a survey revealed 82 per cent of people support guidelines issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions, which said those with good motives who helped a loved one to end their life should not be pursued by the law.

Mr Blomfield said: “I welcome the DPP’s guidance but I feel ultimately we will need to go further.

“Of course there must be safeguards, and constructing them robustly will be difficult, but the challenge of the task shouldn’t put us off the need to do it.

“This issue will not go away. More and more people will be facing these decisions and will be pressing at the boundaries of the law.

“It is not a question, I think, of whether we should go further and legalise assisted dying, but when - and the longer it takes us to act, the more needless suffering we will have consented to.”

The House of Commons heard over 180 British citizens have already travelled to Switzerland to end their lives there.

Labour MP John Healey, for Wentworth and Dearne, told the debate: “I believe we need to look and go further on the law in this country. This is as much about living as dying. It is as much about independence as dependence. It is as much about family as it is about the person facing decisions. But above all this is about the control over what is perhaps the ultimate decision, the act to end one’s own life.”

Paul Blomfield, whose family moved to Sheffield when he was nine, was elected as the new MP for Sheffield Central in 2010, taking over from Richard Caborn. His wife is Linda McAvan, Labour MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, and they have one son.