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by JOSEPH WATTS, Political editor
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
New health minister Norman Lamb has said laws relating to assisted suicide should be debated in Parliament to determine whether they are correct.
The comments of North Norfolk MP Mr Lamb come shortly after the case of Tony Nicklinson, who died last month shortly after losing a court battle for the right to end his own life.
Speaking in a radio interview Mr Lamb said: “First of all it is important to say that this is not something that the Government has policy on.
“We take the view I think quite correctly that this is a matter for individual conscience and it is for Parliament to decide. I think there is a case for a debate.
“In these circumstances, where there is someone who is facing a terminal illness, there is a case for a debate. My personal view is that there is a case for reform. That’s my personal view, it’s nothing to do with my position as a minister in the Department of Health.”
Under the law as it stands, assisting a suicide can be punished with up to 14 years in prison, and each suspected incident must be reviewed by the police and Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr Lamb became the second new health minister to speak on the issue after Anna Soubry, also appointed in last week’s government reshuffle, said the situation around current laws on assisted suicide were “ridiculous and appalling”.