Sheffield MP’s emotional plea for assisted dying laws to be changed eight years after his father’s suicide

Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield has made an emotional plea for the laws on assisted dying to be changed on the eighth anniversary of his father's suicide.

Thursday, 4th July 2019, 4:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th July 2019, 5:21 pm

Mr Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, told the Commons that his father made the decision to end his life shortly after receiving the news he had terminal lung cancer.

He said: “It is, by a coincidence, to the day the eighth anniversary of my receiving a phone call here in Westminster that my father had been found dead in his garage.”

Mr Blomfield added: “As you can see, I don’t find this easy to talk about even after eight years.”

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Paul Blomfield

The Commons chamber remained silent throughout Mr Blomfield’s emotionally charged speech, with members of the public watching from the gallery and fellow MPs visibly moved.

Mr Blomfield urged ministers to reconsider the current law around assisted dying, to help people who might find themselves in the situation his father did.

He said: “His experience shows how the existing law not simply fails people, but leads to premature deaths.”

Mr Blomfield added: “The existing law in itself encourages people to take their lives sooner than they would otherwise do.”

Tory former minister Crispin Blunt said Britons want a change in the law on assisted dying.

Mr Blunt, MP for Reigate, said: “They have to contend with the moral certainties of those who are not suffering in extreme pain who are taking these decisions on their behalf. Us.”

He said despite polls suggesting public support for a new approach to assisted dying, the Government has not responded.

Mr Blunt added: “This Parliament, when the opinion of the people has not changed one iota in that time, is not facing up to its responsibilities. We are the party to increasing tyranny, pain, and despair.”

Labour MP Carolyn Harris said there should be an emphasis on ‘quality of life, not quantity of life’.

She said current laws mean doctors and families who want to help a loved one die with dignity could face up to 14 years in prison.

Antoinette Sandbach, MP for Eddisbury, said families were being put through ‘hell’ by being investigated while they are still grieving the loss of a loved one.

She said police forces enforce the law in different ways and some need to be more sensitive in dealing with people who may have been involved in helping a loved one die.