Tag Archives: care pathway

Assisted Dying Bill – Faith Leaders’ statement

We append below, a statement from the various faith leaders in this country, written in response to the forthcoming Bill on Assisted Dying, to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday 18th July:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth and the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain are amongst the 24 faith leaders who have today voiced their shared concerns about Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill. In a joint statement to Members of the House of Lords they say: “While we may have come to the position of opposing this bill from different religious perspectives, we are agreed that the Assisted Dying Bill invites the prospect of an erosion of carefully tuned values and practices that are essential for the future development of a society that respects and cares for all.”

The leaders and senior representatives are drawn from a broad coalition of Christian churches and denominations, and from the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and Zoroastrian faiths. Lord Falconer’s Bill will be debated in the House of Lords on 18th July 2014. The statement in full, with signatories, is below.

To Members of the House of Lords:

As leaders of faith communities, we wish to state our joint response to Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill. We do so out of deep human concern that if enacted, this bill would have a serious detrimental effect on the wellbeing of individuals and on the nature and shape of our society.

Every human life is of intrinsic value and ought to be affirmed and cherished. This is central to our laws and our social relationships; to undermine this in any way would be a grave error. The Assisted Dying Bill would allow individuals to participate actively in ending others’ lives, in effect colluding in the judgment that they are of no further value. This is not the way forward for a compassionate and caring society.

 

‪Vulnerable individuals must be cared for and protected even if this calls for sacrifice on the part of others. Each year many thousands of elderly and vulnerable people suffer abuse; sadly, often at the hands of their families or carers. Being perceived as a burden or as a financial drain is a terrible affliction to bear, leading in many cases to passivity, depression and self-loathing. The desire to end one’s life may, at any stage of life, be prompted by depression or external pressure; any suggestion of a presumption that such a decision is ‘rational’ does not do justice to the facts. The Assisted Dying Bill can only add to the pressures that many vulnerable, terminally ill people will feel – placing them at increased risk of distress and coercion at a time when they most require love and support.

‪A key consideration is whether the Assisted Dying Bill will place more vulnerable people at risk than it seeks to help. We have seen, in recent years that even rigorous regulation and careful monitoring have not prevented the most serious lapses of trust and care in some parts of the NHS and within a number of Care Homes. It is naïve to believe that, if assisted suicide were to be legalised, proposed safeguards would not similarly be breached with the most disastrous of consequences, by their nature irrevocable.

The bill raises the issue of what sort of society we wish to become: one in which life is to be understood primarily in terms of its usefulness and individuals evaluated in terms of their utility, or one in which every person is supported, protected and cherished even if, at times, they fail to cherish themselves. While we may have come to the position of opposing this bill from different religious perspectives, we are agreed that the Assisted Dying Bill invites the prospect of an erosion of carefully tuned values and practices that are essential for the future development of a society that respects and cares for all. Better access to high-quality palliative care, greater support for carers and enhanced end of life services will be among the hallmarks of a truly compassionate society and it is to those ends that our energies ought to be harnessed.

 

Signatories:

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, Chairman, Guru Nanak

Nishkam Sewak Jatha

Mr Yousif Al-Khoei, Director Al-Khoei Foundation

‪Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church and Secretary of the Conference

‪Bishop Eric Brown, Administrative Bishop, New Testament Church of God

Mr Malcolm M Deboo, President, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe

‪Rev Jonathan Edwards, Deputy Moderator Free Churches Group

Pastor John Glass, General Superintendent, Elim Pentecostal Churches

Revd David Grosch-Miller and Mr John Ellis, Moderators of the United Reformed Church General Assembly

‪Colonel David Hinton, Chief Secretary, The Salvation Army United Kingdom

Rev Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader, Baptist Union of

Great Britain

Ayatollah Fazel Milani, Dean of the International Colleges of Islamic Studies

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew

Congregations of the Commonwealth

Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales

‪His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster

Rev John Partington, National Leader, Assemblies of God

Mr Ramesh Pattni, Secretary General, Hindu Forum of Britain

Bishop Wilton Powell, National Overseer, Church of God of Prophecy

Maulana Shahid Raza OBE, Leicester Central Mosque, Leicester

Venerable Bogoda Seelawimala, Chief Sangha Nayake of Great Britain, London Buddhist Vihara

Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain

Dr Natubhai Shah, Chairman/CEO Jain Network

‪Lord Indarjit Singh, Director Network of Sikh Organisations (UK)

Most Rev and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Summary of the Parliamentary and Public Affairs Committee 14th January 2014

Chairman’s Announcements

David O’Mahony, a CU Council Member, was suggested as a prospective member of the Committee.

Synod Questionnaire on Family Life

Elizabeth Davis, Marriage and Family Life Project Officer of the Bishops’ Conference, gave a presentation on the Synod Questionnaire. It was not a survey but a consultation on experience. The online questionnaire was aimed at reaching those who did not go to church on Sundays. Since the responses had not yet been collected it was not possible to say how many there had been. However it had been taken up with enthusiasm. Many respondents stated had struggled to be faithful to the Church’s teaching. The objective was to help with setting the agenda for the next Synod of Bishops in Rome. It should not be seen as a prelude to a change in doctrine and it was hoped from a clear statement confirming this from the Bishops.

Correspondence

A letter had been written to the Prime Minister and the Dept. of Health regarding the proposal to allow the production of embryos with two mothers and one father (hoping to prevent mitochondrial disease in the child). The Chairman had written again to a named civil servant at the Department of Health about the dangers of this procedure and the lack of an ethical framework.  He would write again to Jeremy Hunt seeking an answer to his questions.

Parliamentary Lobbying Bill

The threshold for registration has been raised from £5,000 to £20,000 in England and from £2,000 to £10,000 in Wales, following a great deal of lobbying against the original proposals. The maximum has been raised to £450,000. Any higher figure will be deemed illegal. The “restricted period” has been reduced to 7.5 months. The courts can deem organisations to be cooperating without evidence. This could be an effect free speech. It is unlikely to affect the CU, given the budgets involved.

Plight of Syrian Refugees

As a result of a papal initiative the Holy See was bringing together the parties involved to discuss humanitarian relief (to both sides), a cease fire and finally a political settlement. The meeting deplored the government’s refusal to receive any refugees. Many Syrian refugees, in particular Christians, were in great danger and some, at least should be welcomed here.

Euthanasia

The CU is on the advisory group of Care not Killing (CNK), an alliance of some 40 organisations opposed to euthanasia. Margo Macdonald MSP, has sufficient signatures to introduce the Assisted Dying Scotland bill, despite the result to the consultation being 65% against. A “trained facilitator” could assist any mentally competent adult with a terminal condition. At Westminster, the Falconer Bill is to be reintroduced with softened wording. The Lords would not normally divide on a second reading but should be encouraged to do so, on this point of principle.

The Follow-on from the Liverpool Care Pathway (LACDP)

This LACDP consultation has no recognition of the need for a research base to underpin their recommendations. There is a suspicion that doctors will resort to familiar methods of treatment. To provide an alternative, the Medical Ethics Alliance has produced a document which the chairman had sent to the minister. The backlash against the LCP came from relatives, and doctors are now more cautious about using it for fear of being sued.

House of Lords Debate on end of life care 12th December 2013

This debate was initiated by Baroness Jolly on behalf of the Department of Health proposing that GPs should nominate the 1% of patients expected to die within the next 12 months in order to enable arrangements for their care to be discussed with them. The Government wishes to save money by keeping old people out of hospital since most people prefer to die at home. There were significant practical problems with this and the existence of a “death list” is extremely unhelpful.

MEA Conference on Mental Health and Abortion 21st November 2013

The topic “Mental health reasons for abortion – are there any?” Speakers were a consultant psychologist, a consultant psychiatrist, a GP and a lawyer. The conclusion was “no, there are not” and further, the Medical Colleges concluded abortion was of no benefit to mental health; stress and anxiety were not per se a threat to mental health. However the purpose of the conference was get the message out that what happens now is a charade. Doctors without mental health training or experience go through the requisite administration without asking any questions.. However there is now disquiet about the working of the Act from the gender imbalance caused by gender based abortion. The Dept of Health said only in 46% of cases, had one or both doctors actually seen the woman. The situation in the remaining 54% was uncertain and the DoH seems to have no interest in ensuring the figures were correct. The BPAS, which performs a majority of abortions, has a policy which states any unwanted pregnancy is grounds for abortion. This explicitly contradicts the official DoH policy.  MPs must ask hard questions to press home this point and so reveal the DoH’s real policy of abortion on demand.

“Rules for Migrants are a scandal” Archbishop Nicholls

The Archbishop h had strongly condemned a Government policy which prevented a UK citizen from bringing in a spouse from outside the EU unless s/he had an after tax income of over £18,500 p.a, well above the minimum wage. This led to families being split up and children being raised without one or other of their parents. The committee was not in agreement over this policy.

Any Other Business

Ministers want to replace anti-social behaviour orders in England and Wales with injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance. One man’s annoyance is another’s free speech and it was thrown out by the Lords 346 Votes to178.  The Government’s reaction waits to be seen.

 

 

Chairman’s New Year Message 2014

Robert Rigby

Robert Rigby, Chairman

As 2013 comes to an end we can reflect on quite a year.  We have a new Pope, and, nearer home, a  new Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh as well as several new Bishops in various dioceses across the United Kingdom.  All, it seems, is change.  Yet there are constants.  The pursuit of the Common Good in public life remains the core focus of the Catholic Union and in this regard it has been a busy year.  Much groundwork has begun in 2013 across the Committees and I would like to mention in particular, the newly-constituted Education Committee.  This Committee will be the vanguard of the Catholic Union Charitable Trust, organising seminars and lectures on Catholic education at all levels.  Stuart Sexton brings to the Chairman’s role a wealth of experience in both education and politics and will set the Committee on a good course.

The new charitable arm of the Catholic Union, the CUCT, will allow us to develop education based projects, whilst being an additional source of income within a charitable umbrella, which has not been possible up till now.  A new website for the CUCT is under construction and will link from the main Catholic Union website.

One major issue over the past year has been the Liverpool Care Pathway and its demise, following the recommendations contained in the Neuberger Report, published last summer.  Tony Cole, Philip Howard and others worked really hard to ensure that the full facts surrounding the LCP were available and understood.  It is, however crucially important that the LCP does not come back under another guise – such as presumed consent, or something similar.  The Catholic Union will continue to work with members in both Houses during the coming year to ensure that this can be avoided, as well as raising other issues of the day which affect our Catholic way of life.

Growing our membership base continues to be a priority.  Late in the autumn of 2013, we had an inaugural talk by Mike Henderson on the CU at the end of a lunchtime Mass at St Mary Moorfields in the City of London.  We hope to build on this in 2014, with more post Missam talks planned as well as the Summer Gathering at Ampleforth (25 – 27 July), together with a drinks reception for members and friends.

In his speech at the AGM, our President Lord Brennan encouraged us to undertake more activities, as well as producing more in the way of written materials.  We will be exploring this idea in greater detail over the coming months.  This combined with the work of the Outreach Committee in sourcing new donors for the work of the Catholic Union and the Catholic Union Charitable Trust, will enable us to develop a truly national reach, with an appropriate infrastructure and development plan over the next 5 to 10 years.

The Catholic Union has a great provenance and we have an opportunity to reinvigorate its activities.  It is because of you, our members, that we are able to move things forward and as always, I encourage you to get involved at whatever point you feel able.  We live in challenging times, but times that nevertheless present an opportunity to engage in the public square for the Common Good.

Finally may I take this opportunity to wish you and your families, a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Robert Rigby

 

 

Lord Brennan – Living and Dying Well Report

Lord Brennan

Lord Brennan

In his speech at the Catholic Union AGM in November, CU President Lord Brennan (pictured above), drew attention to a report he co-authored, on end of life care, which can be read here: LDW – REPORT – ‘ASSISTED DYING’ AND THE LAW

This is an extremely pertinent topic at the present time, drawing as it does upon issues of human dignity, the right to life and end-of-life care.

Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee 19th November 2013

Chairman’s Announcements

Mrs Josephine Robinson, a former Chairman (sic) of the Association of Catholic Women was elected to the Committee.

Correspondence

The Chairman had written to Princess Frankopan, a onetime Vatican adviser following the demise of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), as a result of the  the Neuberger Report.  He suggested that the group of doctors charged with looking into alternatives were keen supporters of the LCP, so there is a danger that it could be brought back and rebranded. His reason for writing was to remind Princess Frankopan that the LCP was taken up by 21 other countries including Malta, with practically no research undertaken.  The Anscombe Centre has signed up to the findings of the Neuberger Report.

LCP Follow Up ad End of Life Care Bill of Rights

The Government has set up a working party (most of the members contained therein were enthusiastic supporters of the LCP) too look into end of life care.  There is a real risk that the outcome could see a rebranding of the LCP.  Baroness Neuberger is aware of this development and is understood to be concerned.  Any end of life plan needs to be research based which the LCP was not and it is vital to ensure that any future plan has its base in solid research.   Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill would now be followed up by someone else.

Three Parent Children

A letter had been had written to the Prime Minister protesting about the government’s manifest intention to introduce the production of children with the genetic material from two mothers and one father. This was contrary to human dignity and international law. (see www.care.org.uk/threeparentchildren) but would need to be approved by parliament.

Parliamentary Lobbying Bill

The Bill is intended to limit the ability to influence elections for one year before the election. Organisations must register (£5,000 in England, £2,000 in Wales, Scotland or NI) and must present accounts three-monthly or weekly before elections with a cap on total spending. This would have a chilling effect on local charities including bishops but is not expected to affect the CU. The Electoral Commission was not consulted on this.

Syrian Refugee Crisis

A Paper on Tony Cole’s recent visit to Syria was presented.  It can be found on the News section of the CU website.

Sex education and the National Curriculum

Labour amendments proposed to the children and families bill would make personal, social, health education (PSHE) compulsory. Withdrawal from such lessons would no longer be at the discretion of parents but of the child. A working group to review SRE guidance was proposed which excluded parents. The Government would not accept these amendments and will not make sex education compulsory. However if Labour win the next Election, sex education would become compulsory. Parents would have no say on this.  OFSTED now wants to know if primary schools are teaching about same-sex families. The concern for secondary schools seemed to be homophobic bullying. The syllabus should promote marriage, including SSM but teachers can disagree with SSM provided they adopt a reasonable and professional tone.  Abortion is currently treated in this way. Guidance is needed by Catholic teachers on these subjects and the CES is working on this.

C4M and the Big Promise

The Big Promise was in fact separate from C4M. It was planning that on 8th Feb 2014, every couple in the UK will have the opportunity to re-affirm their marriage promises to each other. It plans to draw attention to the BIG Promise by coordinating those venues that wish to, in setting a new Guinness World Record for couples reaffirming their vows.

Any Other Business

The Committee heard that Kier Starmer has said that abortions based on gender are not being prosecuted due to defective legislation.  56 charities were due to meet with various MPs, Ministers and members of the House of Lords to discuss the unforeseen consequences of Government cut backs.

The Catholic Union AGM 2013 and the Catholic Union Charitable Trust

At the Annual General Meeting of the Catholic Union, held on 21st November 2013 in London, Robert Rigby was re-elected as Chairman for a further year.  At the same time, John Barrie, a long –serving member of the CU Council was elected one of the vice- chairmen, together with Jamie Bogle.  Retiring vice chairman, Dr Tony Cole, remains chairman of the Parliamentary and Public Affairs Committee.

Robert Rigby

Robert Rigby, Chairman

James Bogle, Vice Chairman

James Bogle, Vice Chairman

John Barrie, Vice Chairman

John Barrie, Vice Chairman

 

 

Tony Cole

Dr Tony Cole

Chairman Robert Rigby said “I want to pay tribute to Tony Cole for his tireless commitment to the Catholic Union and to thank him for all he has done as vice chairman.  His sterling work in helping to bring about the demise of the Liverpool Care Pathway, must surely stand as his lasting legacy and is a shining example of his integrity and desire to promote the Common Good.  I am very pleased to be able to welcome John Barrie to one of the vice chairmanships.  Along with Jamie Bogle, he brings a wealth of invaluable knowledge and experience to the position”.

Also at the AGM, the Catholic Union Charitable Trust (CUCT) was formally endorsed by the membership.  The Catholic Union will build a series of high profile events, which bring to the public arena social, moral and ethical issues of the day under the umbrella of the Catholic Union Charitable Trust (Registered Charity No 1137317) which will allow the Catholic Union to add a Gift Aid element to its fundraising activity.    Robert Rigby commented: “These seminars and open discussions will showcase Catholic social action and Catholic social teaching including education and moral responsibilities in today’s ever secular world.  As the voice of Catholic laity in this country, we are uniquely positioned to undertake this sort of activity, building on our established provenance, capabilities and support of our membership as well as developing partnerships with other interested bodies.  2014 is going to be a year of real growth and development for us”.

This will also be supported by an active Public Relations campaign with special emphasis developing and implementing a social media strategy which positions the Catholic Union at the heart of the debates around social and moral issues of the day.

The Chairman’s speech can be downloaded here:  Catholic Union AGM Speech Nov 13

Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee 22nd October 2013

Chairman’s Announcements

The Committee for 2013-2014 was announced.  The Officers of the Committee remain as before, although Angela Gracey has retired and Rosalind Bearcroft, together with Stuart Sexton, is vice chair.  There are presently three vacancies and names were sought to fill these.

Lord Falconer is now in the Shadow Cabinet so will not be advancing an assisted dying bill for now, although something akin to it might be put forward in Scotland.

Same Sex Marriage

C4M intend to keep the fight alive on this issue and not let politicians off the hook.  The Committee’s view was that this issue is now behind us.

End of Life Care

The Catholic Medical Association has put out a statement on end of life care and Dr Tony Cole was congratulated by the Committee for all his hard work in helping to bring about the demise of the Liverpool Care Pathway.  NHS Trusts are looking at end of life procedures.  An end of life care Bill of Rights is now under considerations by such groups as Living & Dying Well.  There was a discussion on gender-based abortion – in the majority of cases these are undertaken given the supposed unstable mental state of the mother.  Failure to prosecute for such abortions was felt to be an ethical, rather than a judicial matter.

All Party Group on international freedom of religion or belief

This group has written a letter signed by a number of MPs, asking the Government to appoint an ambassador for international freedom of religion or belief.

Proposed anti-slavery Bill

This welcome proposal seeks to disrupt gang trafficking amongst men and women and also to offer some form of help to the victims.  The Bishops would be meeting with Frank Field MP to discuss this further.

Parliamentary Lobbying Bill

“Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14”. It was intended to limit the ability influence elections. It would limit spend and increase the scope of activities covered.

The Bill:

  • introduces a statutory register of consultant lobbyists and establishes a Registrar to enforce the registration requirements;
  • regulates more closely election campaign spending by those not standing for election or registered as political parties ;
  • Strengthens the legal requirements placed on trade unions in relation to their obligation to keep their list of members up to date. It could have a chilling effect on some charities.

“One of Us” Campaign

This campaign aims to acquire a million signatures with a view to opening a debate in the European Parliament on ending funding from research using embryonic stem cells (we can’t destroy embryos because they are “one of us”).

Catholic Union Vice Chairman Dr Tony Cole awarded Schindler Prize

Tony Cole

Dr Tony Cole

Tony Cole, Vice Chairman of the Catholic Union and Chairman of the Parliamentary and Public Affairs Committee, has recently been awarded the Schindler Prize for his work on campaigning for the ending of  the Liverpool Care Pathway, as well as his work on disability.  He was also the subject of an article in the Daily Mail, on how the freedom of the press was a crucial part in the campaign which led to the recent Neuberger Review into the LCP.

The full text of the Daily Mail article can be read here

 

 

Summary of the Parliamentary & Public Affairs Committee Meeting 16th July 2013

Chairman’s Announcements

An outline report was given of a meeting held in late June between the Catholic Union, represented by Robert Rigby and John Barrie and the Bishops’ Conference, represented by Mgr Marcus Stock and Charles Wookey. During the course of the meeting, it was suggested that the Catholic Union should consult other Catholic bodies to ascertain possible areas of alignment and synergy.  Introductions to a number of prominent Catholics in public life were offered, as the Catholic Union could play a role in bringing Catholics together.  Subsequent to the meeting a memorandum was received suggesting that the Catholic Union is out of step in today’s world. A measured response has been sent to the Bishops’ Conference.

The Chairman considered that the PPAC membership is a good example of linking with other organisations, given the scope of memberships and affiliations currently enjoyed by the PPAC members.

The Married Couples’ Tax Allowance has been accepted by the Government and will appear in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

Same Sex Marriage

A letter had been received from Oliver Letwin MP regarding same sex marriage and safeguards for teachers who teach traditional marriage.  The letter made clear that Mr Letwin regards same sex marriage as nothing more than a ceremony and so has no idea of the wider ramifications and time-honoured role of true marriage in society.  The Prime Minister is understood to regard same sex marriage as merely a “relabeling” of the wedding ceremony.  With regard to the safeguards for teachers, this appeared to be seen as straightforward and of little issue.

The House Lords did not feel that they should frustrate the will of the elected chamber (from where many of their number have come).  10 Amendments were moved – these were moderate and well-phrased – all were defeated.  The legislation has been rushed through and is badly drafted.  The law will be tested in the Courts.  There were a total of 55 Lords Amendments.  The campaign against same sex marriage will have to be carried on from a Catholic perspective.  The position for teachers and others will be extremely difficult, since they will be tied by both SSM legislation and the Equality Act.  It was pointed out that although the Bill has been passed, pressure against the law should be maintained by members of the Union and by the public, so that David Cameron is not allowed to forget the opposition this measure has generated. This pressure should be maintained until the 2015 General Election at least.

Neuberger Review – The Liverpool Care Pathway

The final report is extremely welcome.  The Liverpool Care Pathway is to be terminated with immediate effect and replaced with individual care plans in consultation with patients and relatives.  The CMA has put together a list of 6 key questions that families and patients can ask, which include, how near to death is the patient, what is the effect of the drugs likely to be and will they suffer thirst.  The Falconer Bill on Assisted Dying is due in the autumn.  There has been a softening of language and a gradual change in attitude.

Embryology – Question by Lord Alton in the Lords

The Government is set to introduce regulation by 2014 so that Medical Research Council guidelines become standard practice.  It was noted that germ line medical procedure is extremely risky. The Committee was advised that Josephine Quintavalle is taking the lead on countering this with a meeting in October to gather one million signatures in order to procure a debate on the matter in the European Parliament.

School Governors and Local Councillors

The position of local councillors and school governors as Catholics working at a local level “on the front line”, trying to ensure compatibility between their beliefs and what is asked of them.  The case of the Plymouth Brethren, a narrow, yet extremely law abiding Protestant sect, who do not wish to engage with the secular agenda and thereby risk losing their charitable status, was given as a case in point.  The secular agenda is increasingly incompatible with Christian belief and mores

Persecuted Christians

The general feeling is that this is a very low priority for the FCO.  President Assad protects the Christians as part of the pluralist society in Syria.  Arming the rebels would be unhelpful in this regard.  The exemplary work of Baroness Cox in working against Christian persecution globally was cited.

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.