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Daniel Kawczynsk/Twitter
Daniel Kawczynsk/Twitter

Catholic MP: 'Why I've changed my mind about assisted dying in England'

Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynsk has spoken in the Commons about changing his views on assisted dying.

The MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham spoke following a question to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock as to whether people are allowed to leave their homes to travel abroad for assisted dying purposes during the second lockdown in England.

Mr Kawczynsk spoke of his new belief that options should be provided closer to home: "I think it's very difficult to tell somebody who is in pain and suffering and who wants to die that the state is going to prevent them from doing that. As a Roman Catholic, I have recently changed my mind on this issue because of my constituent Mr Noel Conway from Garmston who lives near Shrewsbury.

"I said to him, 'why don't you go to Switzerland?' And his answer will stay with me forever: 'No, I'm an Englishman, I want to die in England.' And I think it's extremely important that our citizens have this right."

Mr Kawczynsk made the comments after Conservative Andrew Mitchell, a former cabinet minister, asked a question in the Commons on the subject and said he was worried the lockdown "could deter" people from making such a journey.

Responding to Mr Mitchell, Mr Hancock told MPs: "The new coronavirus regulations which come into force today place restrictions on leaving the home without a reasonable excuse.

"Travelling abroad for the purpose of assisted dying is a reasonable excuse and so anyone doing so would not be breaking the law."

Mr Hancock added: "The question of how we best support people in their choices at the end of their life is a complex moral issue that, when considered, weighs heavily upon us all."

"Under current law, based on the Suicide Act 1961, it is an offence to encourage or assist the death of another person.

"However, it is legal to travel abroad for the purpose of assisted dying where it is allowed in that jurisdiction."

"As this is a matter of conscience, the Government does not take a position. It is instead a matter for each and every MP to speak on and vote according to their sincerely held beliefs and it is for the will of this House to decide whether the law should change."

The Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, Kevin Hollinrake, asked Mr Hancock for his personal view on assisted dying.

But Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle intervened to say: "I'll be quite honest I don't want to enter into personal arguments as I'm not giving mine and I don't think it's right to put the Secretary of the State on the spot in that way."


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