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Three years of the Joffe bill

more: Quick Overview, Joffe Bill, Quick Overview/Joffe Bill

30th January 2006

Lord Joffe’s new Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill had its first reading (announcement of publication but no debate) in the Lords on 9 November 2005. This is the third ‘assisted dying’ bill tabled in the Lords in as many years. If passed it will enable ‘an adult who has capacity and who is suffering unbearably as a result of a terminal illness to receive medical assistance to die at his own considered and persistent request’. Put simply it seeks to legalise physician assisted suicide (PAS), but not euthanasia, along the lines of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.

The introduction of this new Bill follows the debate on Lord’s Joffe’s previous bill of the same name, which led to a House of Lords Select Committee. The Select Committee reported in April 2005 and their report was the subject of a nine-hour debate in the House of Lords on 10 October. The full Select Committee Report is at

The new bill will become law only if it passes through both the House of Lords and the House of Commons and receives royal assent.

The bill will next come for a second reading in the Lords on Friday 12 May 2006, where there is a debate on the principle of the bill but (by Lords convention) no vote. The date for this has not yet been announced but will appear on the Lords website.

Following the second reading the bill will go to a ‘Committee of the Whole House’ where amendments can be tabled and debated and then to a report stage and third reading where a vote is taken. If the vote passes its third reading in the Lords it will then pass to the House of Commons, if granted parliamentary time, where it will undergo three further readings before, if passed, obtaining royal assent.

The new bill is now available on the UK Parliament website at

The previous 2004 bill, on which the Select Committee Report was based, is still available for comparison at

more Joffe Bill


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