Patrick Harvie MSP

Welcome to Patrick Harvie MSP's biography pages

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Patrick Harvie

Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green)

Thank you, convener.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

I am very grateful, convener. I suppose that the question is whether the decision is interpreted as a medical assessment of capacity or a commonsense test of understanding, which is common in other contexts.

Coral Riddell used the phrase, which is also included in the Law Society’s written submission, that the decision is “irreversible and terminal”. Clearly, the act of a person ending their own life, or the act of someone who is assisting them to do so, is terminal and irreversible, but none of the three documents that we are talking about here—the preliminary declaration, the first request or the second request—is irreversible. Throughout the bill, there are clear steps to ensure that those steps are all reversible; in fact, it is easier to cancel each of those steps than to take them in the first place.

I ask Coral Riddell to explain a slight ambiguity in the submission. It suggests the Belgian model, which allows the proxy to be anyone who is of a minimum age and who does not stand to gain from the person’s death. However, two pages later, it argues that the proxy should be a medical practitioner. That seems odd, given that each of the three documents—the preliminary declaration, request 1 and request 2—already require approval by a medical practitioner, which includes an assessment of capacity.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

I ask to be allowed one final question on proxies.

The point is that solicitors would be entitled to act as proxy but would not be required to do so if they did not feel that they could meet what I would regard as a commonsense test of whether the person understood the effect of the document. However, I am still unclear about what you are asking for. Are you are proposing the Belgian model, in which anyone who does not have an interest and who is over a certain age can act as proxy, or would you simply suggest that we add medical practitioners but do not remove the right of solicitors to perform that proxy role if they felt able to?



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

That still implies a medical test of capacity, which I do not think is suggested in the text of the bill.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

I will pick up on some of the points that Professor Miller has made and ask one or two of the other witnesses to respond. He has raised questions about clarity and the definition of, for example, what counts as reassurance and what would be a step beyond that and would count as assistance. The seeking of clarity is understandable, but this is clearly a complex area. Difficult concepts will always be involved and it seems to me that guidance that would flow from the legislation—for example, on training, the responsibilities of licensed facilitators and even on what to do in the context of someone’s having not requested assisted suicide or having not made a preliminary declaration—would leave medical practitioners with a clearer sense of what to do when it comes to some of the decisions that Professor Miller alluded to.

It seems to me that the questions of clarity are currently open and that the bill gives us the clearest opportunity to begin to fill in the gaps—in particular, through guidance on the role of facilitators. Do you agree?

Anyone?



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

It is certainly better to get it right than to get nothing.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

Not quite yet.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

Thank you very much, convener. An awful lot of ground has been covered, but I wonder whether it might be appropriate for me to write to the committee before it reaches its conclusions to cover some of the issues that there might not be time to cover.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

Wonderful. Thank you.

I will just pick up on one or two of the issues that have been touched on. Briefly, on the conscience clause, it is a great convenience for those legislating in Westminster that they do not have to consider the question of devolved and reserved competences. Perhaps if there was a reciprocal legislative consent mechanism at some future time, we would have that flexibility as well. Clearly, however, there is a requirement for guidelines for professional bodies to address the issue of a conscience clause. Would that be an appropriate means of doing it, given that the regulation of medical professionals is not something that we can legislate on in this Parliament?



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Patrick Harvie

Okay. Thank you. On the question of the minimum age of licence facilitators being 16, is it not clear that that is not simply a voluntary role that one can step up to and acquire the status? A licensing process would be undertaken that would take into account the skills, abilities and experience that people would require to have in order to undertake that role. That said, would it not seem reasonable that, for example, someone who might be very young but who has been a full-time carer for a relative for a long time—perhaps for many years—might have gained the required experience and have a commitment to palliative care and to the dignity and freedom of choice of people at the end of their lives at a surprisingly young age and be regarded by the licensing body as an appropriate applicant?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

 
YesDefeated

 
NoDefeated

 
YesCarried

S4M-11304.3 Michael Russell: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to mo
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11304 Liz Smith: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament believes
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
>> Show more
NoCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
>> Show more
YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Patrick Harvie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11186: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11153: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11116.1.1: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10957: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 12/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10724.2: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 05/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10307.2: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 13/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10217: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10185.3: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 02/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09926: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09872: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 29/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Patrick Harvie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-22906: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22907: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22908: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03596: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 01/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22607: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22604: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22605: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22606: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 25/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22561: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 15/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22398: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Question >>