Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee, 15th January 2013

The Chairman reported on correspondence received between Edward Leigh MP and the Health Minister, Norman Lamb MP regarding the Liverpool Care Pathway in particular raising concerns about its application and practice. It is understood that a number of charities and supposedly the majority of medical professionals think that the Pathway is good and that such problems that there are arise from poor communications and insufficient training. Patients’ “best interests” are to be decided by the medical team. Patients and relatives can obtain a second opinion and in 2010, the GMC suggested an “independent medical opinion” in relation to the Liverpool Care Pathway. CF Scotland where there is a central list of Second Opinion Doctors. No such list exists south of the border and there is no system of substitute consent in this country which could assist in keeping people off the Pathway. NB 45% of patients put on the LCP are already unconscious.

There are presently three Inquiries running into the Liverpool Care Pathway. It had been hoped that a judge would be appointed who would seek to be impartial and objective. In fact Baroness Rabbi Julia Neuberger, who supports voluntary euthanasia, has been appointed. It seems that those in favour of the LCP operate within a “closed belief system”, where supposed “good medicine” is routinely practiced.

Letter to Bishop Malcolm McMahon

The Committee reviewed a slightly revised an expanded letter to Bishop McMahon on sex education and same sex marriage. The overriding concern remains what children will be taught in schools concerning sexual mores, especially where these necessarily deviate from Natural Law and common sense.

Westminster Hall Debate on the LCP

A report was given on this event which took place on 8th January. Several members of the PPAC were present and took an active part in the discussion. Fiona Bruce MP, vice Chairman of the All Party Pro Life Group gave an emotive description of watching her mother on the LCP who took quite some time to die. She also recounted the fact that her father too was put on the LCP but her family managed to persuade the hospital to take him off it and he lived for several more months. Nevertheless Ms Bruce thinks that the Pathway can work if administered properly. Norman Lamb MP again called for better training and communication to make it work, even though it is clear that the LCP is a system which shortens life.

Matters arising

An amendment to Section 5 of the Public Order Act has been passed by a majority of 100 in the House of Lords which would remove the word “insulting” from its contents. The Home Secretary has indicated that the Government will accept the amendment.

Briefings to Catholic MPs were discussed. Presently Catholic MPs ask the CU for briefings. The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales intends sharing its briefings with Catholic Parliamentarians whilst the CU would provide assistance in specialist areas using its wide range of member expertise. Informal soundings of individual MPs asking for views and feedback has also begun.

Items for General Discussion

The recent Pastoral Letter from Archbishop Nichols read out on the feast of the Epiphany was discussed and its content and style welcomed by members of the Committee. CU Members and others are urged to write to their MP outlining their grave and real concerns regarding the forthcoming legislation on SSM.

The statement by Maria Miller MP, Equalities Minister, was discussed. The Government is seeking to promote “equality in marriage” which it regards as being a loving, lifelong commitment between two people, not necessarily between a man and a woman. This is obviously not a true definition of marriage. Opponents are seen to be those from religious groups – eg C4M. It was noted by the Committee that little or no consideration is being given to children as a result of this legislation. It is understood that Church schools can continue to teach about traditional marriage and family values but will have to do so in a balanced way. Furthermore once the legislation is passed it will be difficult to campaign to have it repealed. The 2nd Reading date has been set as 5th February 2013.

Baroness Knight is holding an information meeting on 23rd January, which will call for a fair and open Inquiry. A report will be given at the February PPAC.