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Volume 474: debated on Thursday 24 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what consideration he has given to the Law Commission's recommendations relating to recognition in law of mercy killing as (a) an offence and (b) a partial defence; and what plans he has to consult the public on these matters. (200423)

The Law Commission has not made any recommendations for an offence or partial defence of "mercy" killing. It has recommended that the Government undertake a public consultation on the issue.

This is a difficult and sensitive area. As the Law Commission recognises, the question of whether there should be a partial defence of "mercy" killing raises many of the same issues raised by the debate as to whether assisted dying should be legalised. The Government have made clear that assisted dying is a matter of conscience and for Parliament to decide. Parliament has considered this on several recent occasions. The Government have no current plans to take forward a consultation in this area.