Thank you Mr Speaker
I think it is important that I outline very clearly, both to mover of the Bill and to Hon Members of this House that it is not my intention by moving this Motion today to put this very important piece of draft legislation into the political long grass, especially after a very emotional, respectful and an exceptionally high quality debate last week on Assisted Dying, which lasted over five hours.
I certainly won’t be repeating the speech that I made last week, and I would respectfully ask Members not to do the same here today, because this isn’t a fresh debate on Assisted Dying…
…and although I cannot guide or instruct any Committee that might be established by this Hon House, my motion today is not about taking fresh evidence or even asking the general public for their input at this stage of the process, because as I mentioned last week there is a huge library of material and literature that has already been published on Assisted Dying.
My motion today is simply about how we take this draft legislation forward, but more importantly how we address some of the very serious and valid concerns that were being raised by a high number of Hon Members last week during the debate.
As Hon Members of this House we have a duty to ensure that this draft legislation is right, and that we are bringing forward the very best possible legislation we can in respect of Assisted Dying, in order to help protect both our Manx Community and our medical professionals.
Based on everything that I heard last week, there are sections of this draft legislation that need to be discussed, reviewed and considered very carefully before we move to the clauses stage of this very important bill.
I am sure that the mover of the Bill, Dr. Allinson will argue that a “Committee of the Whole House” can address all the concerns being raised by Hon Members during the Clauses Stage of the Bill….
…and he may be correct when we consider the short title of the bill, the role of the registered pharmacist or even the correct residency period required to access Assisted Dying on the Isle of Man.
However, there are areas of the bill that need to be discussed at length, and the Committee, if established, may wish to take some professional advice or evidence in private or public, especially in respect of capacity, coercion, the formal declaration, the inquest and the death certification, along with reviewing the role that might be undertaken by the Isle of Man Courts in respect of Assisted Dying.
More importantly, and this was a point that was raised by several members last week – if a terminally ill person makes a declaration to end his or her own life in accordance with the draft Assisted Dying Legislation on the Isle of Man – how does it affect their life and mortgage insurance policy?
Hon Members received correspondence from Dr. Allinson yesterday, in which he outlined the opinion of the Association of British Insurers. In that correspondence he mentions that the ABI is the voice of the UK’s Insurance and long term savings industry, and that they supported draft legislation on Assisted Dying in the recent Scottish Consultation.
Dr. Allinson also mentions that there are strong safeguards in place that puts transparency, protection and compassion at its core, which is excellent news.
However, he goes on to say that there was no significant impact identified on the majority of insurance policies.
The majority, which isn’t 100% of all claims made…
That is part of my concern here in respect of the draft legislation, especially in respect of how the death certification is recorded, which may or may not have an impact on someone’s life insurance policy.
John from Port Erin wrote to Hon Members this morning and he mentioned that the Death Certificate shall make no reference to Assisted Dying, but will only mention the underlying condition, such as cancer….
….Yet, two doctors will be expected or required to put their signatures to this document – that is an excellent point, well made by John.
Despite the correspondence from the Hon Member, Dr Allinson yesterday, I still genuinely do not believe that this particular type of question can be discussed and resolved to a satisfactory level in a “Committee of the Whole House”
For example, my own personal life insurance has a “terminal illness” clause, in which my policy will pay out my life insurance cover if I am diagnosed with an advanced or incurable condition where life expectancy is no greater than 12 months….
However, I know a lot of other people will not have this particular clause within their insurance policy, and that is a serious concern for me…
….and I would never forgive myself if someone used this legislation only to find that their life or mortgage policy did not pay out, which could then leave other family members in financial difficulties.
Clause 11 of this draft legislation needs to be reviewed very carefully, in order to ensure that accessing Assisted Dying legislation on the Isle of Man does not come down to what type of insurance policy you hold.
I want to see solid evidence from the ABI that they fully support Clause 11 of the bill as drafted, and that insurance policies will be protected and honoured by those individuals that do use the Assisted Dying Legislation on the Isle of Man in the future.
We really do need to be very careful around this particular point, and other parts of the draft legislation.
I have only highlighted a few of my main concerns in respect of the draft bill, and I would ask Hon Members to seriously consider the points I have raised today before voting;
In closing, I would like to move the following Motion that;
“the Clauses of the Assisted Dying Bill 2023 be referred to a Committee of five Members to consider and to report back by the end of February 2024”.
Thank you Mr Speaker