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Good and bad omissions in the King’s Speech

Catholic Union Deputy Director, James Somerville-Meikle, writes:

As the dust settles on King Charles’s first King’s Speech, talk in Westminster has been on what was not included in the 1,223 word speech rather than the new laws it contained.

The thorny issue of banning conversion therapy appears to have been shelved with no commitment to introduce new legislation on this. Other omissions, however, are more troubling.

The commitment to reform the Mental Health Act, which had enjoyed cross party support, also failed to get a mention. The need for better mental health support is arguably greater than ever in the wake of the pandemic.

At an event in Parliament this week hosted by the APPG on Dying Well, we heard a chilling account of Canada’s new assisted suicide laws. This included the case of a woman who went to Vancouver General Hospital to seek help because of repeated suicidal thoughts. She was told that it wasn’t possible to access mental heath support, but that Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) was available.

Opposition to assisted suicide needs to go hand in hand with better support for the most vulnerable in society, including those with mental or physical health problems. The Catholic Union will work hard to provide a Catholic viewpoint on these, and other issues, in this next session of Parliament.