§ 2.35 p.m.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in accordance with the recent recommendation of the British Medical Association, they will now introduce legislation making it necessary for a doctor to make an examination of a body before certifying death.]
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF HEALTH (THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN)
My Lords, the report by the Private Practice Committee of the British Medical Association was published on the 20th March and it is now being studied by my right honourable friends the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of Health.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, while thanking my noble friend for his pleasing Answer, may we hope that there will be a minimum of delay in coming 2 to a decision? Are the Government aware that there are a number of old ill people, who are anxious, and not without cause, at the possibility of premature burial? Will Her Majesty's Government not agree that death, in itself, is a frightening enough business, without the added possibility of being buried alive? Finally, since, to quote the British Medical Association, a change in the law will make easier the detection of murder, will the Government not agree that it is a matter of considerable urgency?
§ THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend that this is a matter of importance and, indeed, urgency, and I am quite certain that my right honourable friends will consider this matter as quickly as they can. I would point out to my noble friend that when three Government Departments are considering a single Report, and one which is so valuable and important as this, it is bound to take a little time.