Assisted Dying

David Seymour, the sole ACT MP in this New Zealand parliament, introduced his private member bill on assisted dying last Wednesday. It passed by 76 votes to 44. Two things caught my eye. One similarity to the UK. And one difference.

The difference is immediately apparent:- this is a suitable subject for parliamentary debate in New Zealand, but it is not even a subject of political discussion in the UK. This bill is very limited in scope. For instance it requires the informed consent of the person dying, and so does not attempt to provide the possibility of a dignified end to life for a person suffering from dementia. It is widely popular amongst the new Zealand Electorate.

The similarity only becomes apparent if you try and check how a particular MP voted. Here is the only record that I can find. In the UK it is also very difficult to find how your MP voted. In the modern age it would be trivial to have a page on the government website that shares this information with the electorate.

In a representative democracy, the people being represented clearly have a right to know their representatives vote in parliament. Why are MP’s in the UK and New Zealand so coy about how they vote?

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