Lords vote against 'right to die' Bill after impassioned debate

They backed an amendment delaying debate on the assisted-dying Bill for six months by 148 to 100, effectively preventing the private member's Bill sponsored by Lord Joffe becoming law in this session of Parliament.

But Lord Joffe told peers he would reintroduce his Bill in the next parliamentary year, raising the prospect of another full-scale debate on the issue.

The symbolic vote came after an impassioned eight-hour debate in which more than 90 peers spoke. Peers, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, attacked Lord Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill which would give doctors the power to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to allow terminally ill people to take their own lives.

The Bill, based on a law in the American state of Oregon, had little chance of becoming law but the debate and vote became a test of public opinion over the first moves towards legal euthanasia in Britain.

Opening the marathon debate, Lord Joffe insisted that his private member's Bill would give patients extra choice over the end of their lives. But critics said the terminally ill would come under pressure to die rather than use expensive pain-relieving care.

Lord Joffe said: "We can move forward on this sensitive matter with confidence, secure in the knowledge that the Bill would not impose anything on anybody and only provides an additional end-of-life option for terminally ill patients which they are free to accept or reject as they and only they decide."

But Lord Carlile of Berriew, the Liberal Democrat peer and proposer of the amendment designed to halt progress of the Bill, warned: "Despite protestations to the contrary, everyone in this House knows that those who are moving this Bill have the clear intention of it leading to voluntary euthanasia."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Rowan Williams, launched an offensive against the Bill in an unprecedented joint letter with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

Dr Williams told peers: "Whether or not you believe that God enters into the consideration, it remains true that to specify even in the fairly broad terms of this Bill conditions under which it would be both reasonable and legal to end your life, is to say that certain kinds of life are not worth living.

"We would also jeopardise the security of the vulnerable by radically changing the relationship between patient and physician."

He was backed by the former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton. Lord Carey warned: "If introduced, assisted suicide might be treated as casually as abortion is today, after a few years."

Lord St John of Fawsley, a Conservative peer and Roman Catholic, said: "The deadly sin of our time is not sexual promiscuity, about which the Church goes on too much. The evil of our time is greed. It goes throughout society and at every level. This Bill would open the way to abuse by the greedy and acquisitive, bringing pressure on those who are at their most vulnerable."

But Baroness Jay of Paddington, the former Labour leader of the Lords, backed the measure. She said: "However much we respect the opposition to this Bill in principle, we live today in a very diverse and predominantly secular society in which the importance of human rights is increasingly valued.

"We have to recognise some terminally ill people would prefer to end their lives in a controlled and dignified manner, rather than receive care until a so-called natural death."

Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar, a Tory, said: "Terminally ill patients are allowed to stop taking life-preserving drugs and thus probably face many days of pain before they die; and doctors are allowed to give pain-killing drugs, even though they know it will speed up the death of the patient."

He added: "This Bill is not a Rubicon and because I think the opponents of this Bill are being illogical and because public opinion is strongly in favour, I strongly support it."

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past