Popular musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has told how he was so convinced he wanted to die last year that he considered visiting a suicide clinic. In an interview for the Telegraph, the composer says that he has now changed his mind, however, and now opposes so-called “assisted dying”.
The revelation comes as the British House of Lords debates a bill that would legalise assisted dying in certain circumstances. The issue is currently dividing Britain, with some claiming that the terminally ill should have a right to ask a doctor to end their lives, while others say it will endanger the disabled and cheapen human life. A record number of peers have put their names down to speak in today’s debate.
Lloyd Webber, who is also a member of the House of Lords, told how he went as far as getting the forms for a Swiss clinic that would end his life after a series of operations left him in continuous pain.
He told the Telegraph: “I went through a moment of deep depression — that awful moment when you think that you must find a way out. I actually got the forms for Dignitas.”
“With hindsight, it was stupid and ridiculous, but I couldn’t think what to do.”
He threw out the forms when his symptoms subsided and is likely oppose the bill in the House of Lords today.
“What concerns me, and I suspect many others, is what floodgates would [this measure] open?
“Does it create a culture where older people are a burden … I am totally unsure.”
“I shall listen to as much of the debate as I can,” he added, “and I can be swayed by arguments. I don’t want to go in with a totally closed mind, but I have to reflect on personal experience.”
Another prominent peer likely to oppose the bill is Baroness Grey-Thompson, an 11-time Paralympic gold medallist, who said: “Its so-called safeguards are feeble: they are similar to putting up a notice not to go near the edge of a cliff but not putting a railing there to stop people falling over.
“It defines terminal illness in such a way as to bring large numbers of people with chronic illnesses and disabilities within its ambit.”
Lloyd Webber is famous for writing musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Cats. He was awarded a peerage in 1997 and sits in the House of Lords as a Conservative.