Veteran Conservative ex-cabinet minister Norman Tebbit has said that giving people the right to die would create a “breeding ground for vultures”, who exploit the law to cash in on inheritances. Lord Tebbit made the comments in debate on the subject in the House of Lords, according to the Sun.
He said he feared assisted dying would provide “financial incentives” to “end people’s lives early” especially if they were frail or vulnerable. Tebbit has some experience in this area as his wife Margaret was paralysed by the Brighton bomb.
The Tebbits had been asleep in the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the 1984 Conservative Party Conference when an IRA bomb went off. Both had to be freed from the wreckage of the hotel by the emergency services and Margaret Tebbit was left severely disabled by it. Lord Tebbit has acted as her principal carer since then.
Yesterday’s debate was spearheaded by Lord Falconer who said a change in the law would mean “less suffering not more deaths”. He proposes that doctors should have the power to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to patients who have no more than six months to live.
Two independent medics would need to agree that the patient made an informed decision to die. This is hoped to prevent abuses but Lord Tebbit warned: “I am concerned at the financial incentives to end the lives of the frail, the handicapped, the ill and the elderly.
“This Bill will be a breeding ground for vultures, individual and corporate. It creates too much financial incentive for the taking of life.”
Paralympic gold medallist Tanni Grey-Thompson said the move could lead to “Dignitas-style facilities” across the country.
She said: “We have to recognise not everyone’s motives are altruistic. Not everyone has a caring family. People can be coerced. We do not live in a halcyon world where choice genuinely exists for everyone.”
A record 130 members of the House of Lords spoke in the debate on the Assisted Dying Bill in a marathon ten hour session. The vote on the bill’s progression will happen after the summer recess. Last week the country was shocked to learn that the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey was backing the bill.