Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee, 18th June 2013

Chairman’s Announcements

The Chairman congratulated Sir Edward Leigh MP, upon his Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours earlier in the month. He also mentioned that he had been advised of the names of three Catholic MPs, Paul Maynard, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Sarah Teather whom it would be helpful to invite to PPAC meetings and/or receive the papers from these.

Liverpool Care Pathway

The Neuberger Report is expected in the third week of July. Baroness Neuberger had been taken aback by the volume of complaints from unhappy relatives. She is expected to be critical of the implementation and to recommend more monitoring, as well as the offer in every hospital to negotiate with the patient and/or relatives.

Commons and Lords Debate on Marriage (same sex couples) Bill

As this Bill has now been passed in the Lords, it is accepted that it will pass into law. The issue now is how best to put forward amendments that would best protect freedom of speech and belief for religious and other dissenters. Given the law’s poor drafting, some of these issues would only be settled in court.

Heterosexual Civil Partnerships

This had been put forward as an extension of equality. The Government has decided to consider it separately from the Marriage (same sex couples) Bill, possibly because in part because it could add billions to Government expenditure. The effect overall is to weaken the institution of marriage still further, and as such is not supported by the Committee.

Assisted Dying Bill (Lord Falconer)

This Bill is due to come up for First Reading in the autumn. The Royal College of Nursing is ambivalent towards the issue. An anonymous poll has reported that, in the Netherlands between 8 and 9% of doctors admitted to carrying out euthanasia on patients without their consent.

Homosexual bullying in Catholic Schools

It was agreed that the question of who should be invited to talk on this subject in schools is a matter for Governing bodies. Stonewall is in fact well-disposed towards Catholic schools who adopt zero tolerance towards bullying.

The case of the Scottish midwives

The Scottish Health Board has refused to accept the judgement in this matter and is going to take it to the Supreme Court. The final judgement will be of supreme importance to freedom of conscience.