Assisted dying group accused of trying to 'buy' debate by MPs

Assisted dying group accused of trying to ‘buy’ debate by MPs by asking supporters to donate towards social media push for parliamentary petition

  • Dignity in Dying is raising money for social media push for parliamentary petition
  • It calls for assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults’ to be legal
  • But its tactic has prompted MP to say group is trying to ‘buy debates’ in chamber

An assisted dying group has been accused of trying to ‘buy’ a debate in Parliament with a cash appeal. 

Dignity in Dying has written to supporters asking them to donate towards a social media advertising push for an official parliamentary petition. 

They say it ‘will cost a little under a pound per signature’ to reach new supporters. 

The petition, which calls on the Government to ‘legalise assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults’, was just shy last night of the 100,000 signatures required for consideration for a debate in Parliament. 

But the tactic prompted accusations – denied by the group – that it is trying to ‘buy debates’. 

Dignity in Dying has written to supporters asking them to donate towards a social media advertising push for an official parliamentary petition. They say it ‘will cost a little under a pound per signature’ to reach new supporters (stock image)

Tory MP Danny Kruger, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well, said: ‘The implication of this extraodinary fundraising email is that well-funded campaign groups can now buy debates in Parliament that they have failed to obtain democratically’

Tory MP Danny Kruger, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well, said: ‘The implication of this extraodinary fundraising email is that well-funded campaign groups can now buy debates in Parliament that they have failed to obtain democratically. 

‘Whatever your views on this issue, this email calls into question the integrity of our democratic system.’ 

Mr Kruger said he will write to Catherine McKinnell, chairman of the Petitions Committee, to ask her to ‘investigate this petition incredibly carefully’.

He added: ‘There seems to be ample evidence that the signatures have been obtained as a result of spending tens of thousands of pounds – something out of reach to the campaigners of a majority of causes worthy of parliamentary debate.’ 

Baroness Meacher pictured as she joins demonstrators, including Humanists UK’s members and supporters, during a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London to call for reform as peers debate the new assisted dying legislation in October 2021

The Assisted Dying Bill, sponsored by crossbench peer Baroness Meacher – who chairs the group – failed to secure a Commons debate after stalling during its passage in the Lords. 

David Pearce, Dignity in Dying’s fundraising director, said: ‘The strength of feeling among the public on this matter is well documented, with the vast majority – 84 per cent – from all corners of the country, walks of life and political persuasions wanting to see a change in the law.

‘Dignity in Dying is promoting awareness of the petition and has been transparent in its fundraising efforts to do so. 

‘To imply that signatures can be “bought” is patronising in the extreme. It is up to individuals to sign if they want to see the issue debated in Parliament.’ 

He accused ‘anti-choice’ campaigners of raising funds with the ‘intention of blocking a debate’ to ‘deny the British people a say on this fundamental issue’. 

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