I respect the will of the Scottish Parliament on assisted dying and am committed to ensuring that everyone has dignity and respect at the end of their life.
I recently spoke with a member of Dignity in Dying Scotland and had a very considered conversation which covered the topic of an Assisted Dying Bill in Scotland. I explained that whilst I voted against such a Bill in the past, as always I would give any future Bill proper consideration and would look to ensure that it included strong safeguarding measures to protect individuals.
Assisted suicide is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. In 2015 the Scottish Parliament debated Stage 1 of the Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill. The debate focused on all matters related to assisted dying, including matters related to both assisted suicide and assisted dying.
Traditionally votes on assisted dying have been a matter of conscience for the SNP. It is important that sensitive issues such as this remain free votes so that Members of Parliament can express their own views as well as those of their constituents.
Ultimately, following an open vote, the Scottish Parliament decided not to proceed with this legislation. As such the Scottish Government believes that the current law is clear and has no plans to change it.
However the debate, which was considered, sincere and respectfully heard by all involved, helped to focus attention of end-of-life care and the quality of treatment that people deserve as they near death. This is something that an SNP Government will work to ensure remains at the centre of end-of-life care.
In the 2021 Manifesto, the SNP has committed to running annual Citizens’ Assemblies annually to look at some of the more complex issues we face as a country. This will allow the SNP to bring together a cross section of people from across Scotland to discuss topics such as reform of Council Tax and the role of local government, assisted dying and decriminalisation of drugs.