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Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley): We have been hearing about services being withdrawn after a week. Is it not the case that they are sometimes withdrawn after 24 hours? Pressure is exerted on families when they are weak and vulnerable, and they make decisions that they may regret later.

Mr. Galloway: Yes. That applies particularly to people who have no religious faith. It was impossible for me to accede to the wish of my late father's doctor, for religious reasons, but someone without the bedrock of belief, feeling vulnerable and shocked because a close relative had suddenly been struck down, might well accede to such a request, and spend the rest of his or her life bitterly regretting it and hating the doctor who made the suggestion in the first place.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: The hon. Gentleman is making an excellent speech based on experience, and I agree with every word that he has uttered. Can he balance what has been said by two medical Members who take a different view by confirming that many eminent clinicians, professors and experts support the Bill?

Mr. Galloway: That was a timely intervention. The Bill was not produced by the minority of active believers in the House; it is a scientific measure, with unimpeachable scientific, ethical and medical support. It is not necessary to agree with me or with the hon. Member for Congleton on religious matters to support it.

Food and fluid were withdrawn from the grandmother Janet Johnstone, and she lingered for several days, dying a death that we would regard as a war crime had she been conscious. Leaving someone sitting there, and refusing them food or fluid, would be not only murder but murder most foul. It would be cruel and unusual punishment. It would be outlawed in any circumstances. If the death penalty were permitted, no one would suggest that it should be implemented by allowing someone to starve to death over several days. This is cruel and unusual, yet it is permitted following the judgment of a Scottish court. The Bland case is very similar, if not identical.

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The consequence of our allowing those judgments to go unchallenged--we must set the parameters within which courts make judgments--can only be to accelerate and to give power to the demand for euthanasia. If I am asked, "Should someone be allowed to starve to death over several days, or be injected and killed?" and those are my only two choices, even I will have to opt for the injection and killing because it is less cruel and less wicked than to starve someone wilfully to death. That is why that loophole has to be closed. It will make euthanasia inevitable, when the clear majority of people in the country do not want euthanasia to be introduced. I believe that the clear majority of hon. Members do not want it to be introduced, either.

The hon. Member for Macclesfield, whom I greatly respect, said that he had agreed with every word I had uttered. I fear that he will not agree with my next words. They are directed perhaps mainly at Labour Members. Euthanasia is the ultimate capitalist policy. Members may laugh, but it is the ultimate capitalist policy because it seeks to dispose of those from whom further profit and surplus value will never be able to be wrung.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton indicated assent.

Mr. Galloway: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I believe that he agrees with me.

The end point of the process, which I am arguing we are already on, is the medical cleansing of geriatric wards, chronically sick wards and of people who will only ever be a financial cost to society, who will never again be a financial benefit and turn in a profit for anyone, and who can look forward only to using up society's resources.

We are being softened up for that argument. All the time, I see disrespect for old people and for disabled people--the deliberate fostering of the idea that they are a burden. How many articles have we read and how many items have we seen about the ever increasing proportion of old people in our society, as if it were some monstrous carbuncle growing on society, instead of just all of us, our mothers, fathers and grandparents growing old? They talk as if it were some problem that people are living to a greater age, instead of something for which we should be thanking God.

How many times have we read and heard arguments asking how we are going to pay for the treatment of the elderly and saying that there are not enough young people? I agree that there are not enough young people. That is one of the reasons why we need to up the birth rate and why we should thank God for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister showing the way in that respect. That is the way to tackle the problem: increase the birth rate, not the death rate.

The argument that that section of the population is a burden is deliberately fostered in society. If that debate continues unchecked, old people themselves may begin to believe that they are a burden and sign up to be dispatched, so as not to be a burden on relatives.

On the subject of relatives, in parenthesis--although, of course, it does not apply to the Bland or Johnstone families--I may say that I have come across many families who, metaphorically speaking at least, are sitting at the bottom of the elderly relative's bed, waiting for the off and the disbursement of the will, so I do not think that relatives per se are qualified to sign off other people's lives, any more than doctors and lawyers are.

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The deliberate fostering of the sense that old people, disabled people and chronically sick people would be better away is a profoundly unethical, unchristian idea. It comes from those who believe that our only real purpose is to work, to earn and to be individuals when we are strong. It is the weak, vulnerable and those not able to speak for themselves whom hon. Members have to speak for and to protect.

I said that I was old fashioned and indeed unfashionable in some of my views. I clearly am in my last one. I saw the British Medical Association's pronouncements on the Bill and was not surprised. If war is too important to be left to generals and the ethical question of euthanasia too important to be left to doctors and lawyers, it is certainly too important to be left to the BMA.

The BMA is on record as wanting to extend the Bland judgment to stroke victims and to new-born babies. It wants to push the frontier, to open new loopholes and to create the demand for enlarging those loopholes. Before we know it, we will have creeping, back-door, but none the less deadly euthanasia.

Dr. Tonge: It is not only the BMA that opposes the Bill. The Alzheimer's Society and Age Concern also oppose it.

Mr. Galloway: I am surprised to hear that point because Alzheimer's will be one of the next ones down the line. After new-born babies, stroke victims and the persistently vegetative who may or may not recover, believe me, that will be a next one. Would we want an old grandmother to go on dribbling in her chair? She cannot even tell us whether she wants to stay alive. That will be the next demand. My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw is on record as supporting the foul industry of assisted suicide and the rest, so I am not overly concerned about his disapproval of what I am saying, but I am absolutely sure that Alzheimer's sufferers will be the next cab off the rank if the process proceeds any further.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough): It is not just a "maybe": it is actually in a document from the BMA ethics committee on withholding and withdrawing lifelong medical treatment. It says:

The kernel of the hon. Gentleman's comments is that we should not leave it to doctors to decide whether a patient's life is worth while.

Mr. Galloway: That is exactly my point. I could not have put it better.

Dr. Brand: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Galloway: It is probably a good time for me to draw my remarks to a close, but, as I have described the hon. Gentleman's deadly bedside manner so graphically, I will give way to him.

Dr. Brand: If God has decided to visit the old grandmother that the hon. Gentleman described, who is obviously in some distress with her Alzheimer's, with an

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illness that is potentially fatal, but treatable, are doctors not right to consider with the family whether that treatment should be given?

Mr. Galloway: That matter is beyond the scope of the Bill. I have a clear view on it, which I am happy to debate with the hon. Gentleman any time of his choosing, but the hon. Member for Congleton has specifically not gone down that path. Hon. Members who want to find an excuse for blocking her Bill are seeking to imply that it tackles each and every one of the ethical issues. It does not. She has drawn it very narrowly and made it as brief as it realistically could be precisely to command the broadest consensus, leaving aside some of the other ethical questions.

The Bill is about "the purpose" of the withdrawal of treatment, food or fluid from patients who are not in a position--who are not mentally at that particular time able--to give a statement themselves about what they wish to happen and are, thus, utterly vulnerable, lying there absolutely at the mercy of the doctor and other medical staff who are treating them. The Bill would make such actions an offence.

The hon. Member for Isle of Wight has--bravely, one might say, although I thought chillingly--described circumstances in which, had the Bill's provisions been in force when he was in medical practice, he would be considered to be a mass murderer.

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